101 Uses for a Paper Clip


July 1998


101 Uses for a Paper Clip

Organize brainstorming sessions

Sick of coming up with bright ideas for promotions all by yourself? Jewelry sales trainer and consultant Eln Albert of La Jolla, CA, says many jewelers are. Her solution: make your staff do the work. "Salespeople usually have good ideas but often no one asks for them," she says. Here's how to organize staff brainstorming sessions that should yield some ideas:

  1. Start with a warm-up session designed to break the ice and put your employees in a creative mood. Break up your staff into groups of three of four. Ask them to spend one minute thinking of as many uses as possible for a paper clip. The zanier the ideas, the better. The point is to break down inhibitions and get people thinking "outside the box."
  2. Next, shift the focus from paper clips to promotions. Ask them to come up with as many ideas as they can, the wilder the better. Because ideas often trigger other ideas, quantity, not quality, is the goal. One vital warning: don't criticize any of the ideas – the staff will clam up and your purpose will be defeated. (You can limit this session to 15 minutes if you're under time constraints.)
  3. Get the staff to narrow down and refine the ideas. Ask which two or three they like, and encourage "hitchhiking" ideas – people adding to or improving upon each others' proposals. Let them continue until they have a usable concept. (Again, this process can take place in several 15-minute sessions.)
  4. Give everyone in the brainstorming group a small reward as a thank-you. If they believe their efforts and ideas are appreciated, they'll happily help out the next time.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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