Illustration of a phrenology skullAs someone who works in the creative industry, I know all too well how hard it can be to constantly come up with fresh ideas. Today’s HBR management tip is on the very hot topic of innovation jams, which many companies are using to meet this challenge. This technique has exploded recently, with everyone from major corporates to local government giving it a go. The idea is that you bring together a wide range of people with different backgrounds to brainstorm ideas or solutions to specific challenges. HBR recommends the following steps to ensure your jam is a success:

  • Let participants choose the challenge.
  • Keep the team small.
  • Clearly define the problem. 

Sound advice. However, some recent research we carried out for a client also makes me think we need to add a fourth and a fifth step:

  • Agree a criteria for selecting ideas worth pursuing.
  • Create a plan to make them happen.

Our research identified that too often when innovating, people find themselves overwhelmed with ideas, and they struggle with choosing which ideas are good and which are bad. They also find it extremely difficult to turn the good ideas into reality.

So before any sort of idea generation session it is vital to create a framework for selecting the ideas most likely to succeed and achieve your objectives. Then, at the end of the process,  devote time to planning, and ensure that everyone leaves with an achievable plan to execute the ideas generated.