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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Who, Not How Many

At the Charlotte Business Marketing Association presentation several weeks ago, a question was raised about the right number of people to have in ideation sessions.

That's a common question, and there are certainly optimum group sizes. What's optimum varies based on the business objective and the complexity of the effort needed.

My response though was the much more important factor is the group's composition. For the best thinking, three groups need to be represented:
  • People with solid, front-line business experience to help frame business issues.

  • Others with functional knowledge applicable to the topic to provide an understanding of capabilities.

  • Creative instigators who can act as catalysts for viewing things in new & unconventional ways.

Given that criteria, I've done very successful multi-person strategic thinking sessions with two people who filled multiple roles. Often, it takes 3 to 8 people per group to have enough depth in each of the three areas.

Tomorrow's post will highlight the challenges of overloading an ideation session with too much creativity. Trust me - it doesn't lead to the best, most implementable ideas.

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