Set the ground rules (5 min)
The rules help keep the energy levels high, stimulate idea creation and increase the productivity of the group.
If you don’t want to make your own up use Alex Osborn’s:
- Focus on quantity: Quantity breeds quality
- Withhold criticism (until the evaluation session)
- Welcome unusual/wild/whacky/crazy ideas
- Combine and improve ideas. Idea stealing encouraged
- Appoint someone to enforce the rules and keep you to the deadline
Get all the ideas out of people’s heads (5 min)
People will have ideas floating around in their heads. Get these down on paper before they get forgotten in the brainstorming excitement.
- Everyone takes a piece of paper each and writes down all the ideas they have for a business. Don’t share them just write.
- If you don’t have any ideas (or if you have time left) make a list of problems they you think need to be fixed.
Combine the ideas a create more (20 min)
Swap lists so people don’t hold back ideas they wrote down then had second thoughts about.
As people hear ideas they will imagine new ones, grab them while they are fresh and write them down.
- Trade your list for someone else's, then go around the table. Each person giving one idea from their list. Record all the ideas on a whiteboard / butchers paper / post-it-notes / whatever.
- As these ideas are being recorded shout (and write down) new ideas
Set up the criteria you want to judge the ideas by (10 min)
Figure out what is important to the group. Making money? Finishing it? Helping people? Doing something cool?
Make a list of criteria you think are appropriate for judging the ideas against. Consider the follow criteria and add your own:
- Can we finish this before the launch?
- Should it make us filthy rich?
- Idea requires maintenance after launch?
Agree on the top criteria, vote if you have to.
Reduce the list down to 3 (20 min)
Ideas for whittling down the ideas list:
- Criteria. Compare each idea against the criteria list. Are there any that just fail totally on the criteria
- Show of hands votes. Ask “ok who wants to keep this idea in?” any idea with no hands can be dropped
- Sometimes you can cross some ideas out straight away (they were good thought provokers but their work is now done).
- Sometimes it is good to reorder the lists (easy with post-its, hard with butchers paper) or use colored pens or symbols to group like ideas
- As the list gets shorter you might want to score each idea against the criteria you selected to see which score the best
Present your top 3 ideas
This will give you a chance to tap into the collective wisdom of all the startup campers. Don’t sweat the pitch, just tell it like you feel it.
- Appoint 1 person for each idea to do a 60 second pitch of that idea to all the groups
Choose the one idea and go for it! (10 min)
An average idea well executed is worth a thousand great ideas not executed at all. So pick one and get cracking. There will be another StartupCamp and many nights and weekends for those runners-up. Consider the surplus ideas not dead, just resting.
- Review and discuss the feedback for each of the ideas.
- Rule out any that are now instantly out of the running.
- Decide on the preferred idea (vote, toss a coin, rock-paper-scissors)
- Write down what you have agreed to and celebrate.