Smart Brainstorm

Posted: Jul 09 2015

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Specific,  Measurable,  Attainable,  Relevant,  Time-bound; just like every good brainstorm should be!

Designed to optimise productivity and outcomes, the SMART model was first defined by George T. Doran in 1981 and has since been adapted and adopted in many workplaces all around the world. A SMART approach can be applied to numerous areas in a department, from strategy development to project management and everything in-between, including brainstorms.

The perfect brainstorm would consist of a diverse group of individuals playing to their strengths in synergy whilst whittling away the minutes efficiently, with little to no time wasted in developing the ideal tactic.

For some though, the very thought of the above seems like a dream away. In that case, the SMART model may be just what you're looking for to streamline brainstorms and knock creative heads together without going too off-track or thinking too far ahead.

To see what we mean, keep reading for our breakdown of the model and how it can be applied to your next brainstorm.  


To begin with, identifying the purpose and specifics of the brainstorm should be a top priority. By doing so, you will be able to make a list or mental note of areas of improvement, as well as any details relating to the meeting, enabling your team to concentrate on one factor at a time.

If you're concerned about team-wide contribution, it may be worth asking each employee to bring something specific to the table, be it an idea or something they've come across that could be an issue.


Secondly, you need to think about how you're going to keep tabs on how the brainstorm develops. Without considering a progress indicator, it is all too easy to waste time with chatter in between ideas. So, of course, you will have the mind map itself if you're planning to organise a visual brainstorm, but what else can you do to measure productivity and progress?

Well, if you're conscious of time, to keep the brainstorm short, sweet and streamlined, allowing every employee 5-10 minutes to explain their ideas is a good way to ensure everyone has their say.

Attainable and Relevant

Once ideas have been jotted down, you need to think about what's actually attainable. For this step, consider resources, time-efficiency and skillset; this way, you can also think about who to assign the task.

As well as ensuring all goals are attainable based on the factors listed above, you need to ensure they are relevant to your end objective. Think about how the concepts put forward will grow into what your team ultimately want to achieve and for those that don't seem all too relevant, make a note of them elsewhere, as they could be used in the future or a different department altogether.


So, you have your concepts, all of which are relevant to the team-wide objective in question and can be achieved. The last factor you need to consider is when the ideas need to be implemented and how much time you have for concepts to develop. In today's fast-paced work lifestyle, it can be difficult to make more time, but think realistically based on current roles and whether it is a short-term fix or a long-term solution.

These are just a few ways to organise a SMART brainstorm. Before sitting down with your team, it may be worth jotting these steps down, so you can adopt a systematic approach.

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