Don’t mind your P and Ps!

Creative people discussing new ideas or art project

Don’t mind your P and Ps! In the semi-regular brainstorm again. What am I doing here? Supposedly coming up with good ideas … but for what?

A big reason many brainstorms fail to deliver actionable results is that they are simple too vague. Most brainstorm briefs are a form of magical thinking: go into that room together and don’t come out until you have something amazing.

That approach apparently worked for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards when they needed to start writing their own songs. It mostly doesn’t work in companies for a host of reasons.

If you know anything about market research, you’ll know that the answers only matter if you’ve asked the right questions. Otherwise, it’s just data, noise. The same is true of brainstorms. If you don’t ask the right questions, the answers mostly don’t matter, which is why they are mostly a waste of everyone’s time.

To focus your brainstorm better, steal a page from Mel Rhodes’ book… and use the 4Ps framework of creativity to better brief your brainstorm.

To really get your brainstorm doing something useful, ask yourself, do we need ideas for:

  1. The Product

Now we know we’re looking at an artefact that needs improving in and of itself: what it is, how it delivers that, how it is made etc. 

  • The Process

The product is fine. But we could certainly do with more efficient, more robust, cheaper and better ways to make it, so let’s look at all the processes of making, delivering and selling the product, can we find some good ideas here?

  • The People

Maybe we need to upskill our people, employ a larger diversity of people or simply get more people in. What ideas can we think up that will help our business by innovating around our people?

  • The Press

Yeah, this is the environment in which your people use the processes to make your product. Is your workplace conducive to happy, productive employees? Is it safe, inspiring and generally a nice place to come to? Also, does it facilitate the level and quality of work you require? How can we tweak the environment to deliver more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff.

The beauty of the 4Ps framework is its flexibility and depth. You can work your way through each P is turn or focus on one. Or, by looking at your business through the lens of the 4Ps, find the gaps where innovation and growth can take place.

It is a perspective shifter. Most great new ideas come from outsiders because they have a different perspective to the experts. By shifting your focus, the 4Ps allows you to also change your perspective on ANY problem that you are desperately brainstorming a solution for …

So don’t just ask the team to brainstorm. Ask them, which P does our problem fall into?

What does that mean we need to change or fix to resolve this problem?

You will find the session delivers actionable results because it is better focused.