PMI Shield Property Management Blog

Brainstorming sessions done right

Brainstorming sessions done right

Communities have problems. Boards help solve them. That’s why creative thinking and brainstorming are so important to effective HOA management.

When was the last time your Dallas HOA board had a successful brainstorming session? By “successful,” we don’t mean you were able to get side work done while everyone else tossed out a few ideas in hopes that they wouldn’t be loaded down with extra work. Did everyone leave the meeting encouraged and recharged or did they leave feeling like they wasted the last hour or two? Were any of the ideas successfully implemented? Did they make a difference?

Effective brainstorming sessions can help Dallas HOA boards innovate and creatively solve challenges and problems and make their communities stronger. Ineffective brainstorming meetings can be time-wasters and drag down morale.

What’s the secret to brainstorming done right? For starters, don’t try to tack brainstorming on to a jam-packed regular meeting and a long list of regular board business. Schedule a separate meeting or set aside ample time to do some creative thinking. Don’t keep the brainstorming topic a secret before the meeting. If you want people to contribute ideas, give them time to prepare. Some people are great at coming up with ideas on the spot. But many people need time to process and think through options. At the beginning of a brainstorming session, state the purpose and mission of the meeting.

It’s vital to make sure all board members feel safe in the brainstorming sessions. Fear and insecurity is the enemy of effective brainstorming. How do other board members respond to the ideas presented? Does anyone have to worry that someone will attack their idea(s)? What happens to those who go against conventional thinking or who question the aspects that have “always been done that way?” Are they made to feel unhelpful or, worse, chastised? The reaction to ideas can have a huge impact on further board member suggestions. The Dallas HOA board president must set the tone for regular meetings and brainstorming sessions so that everyone feels valued and able and excited to contribute. It isn’t always easy to accomplish, and it can take some hard work and leadership skills, but it is of utmost importance.

Most HOA boards are comprised of people with diverse skills, backgrounds and ways of communicating. Make sure all members feel respected and asked to contribute ideas. You’ll also want to make sure that everyone feels like they belong and are in on important discussions. You’ll also want to make sure taht establishing side channels of communication and leaving some board members out of critical discussions will not be tolerated.

And you might want to reconsider any rewards for those “best” ideas. A reward system may cause some people with good ideas to not even make suggestions if they know their ideas aren’t worthy of such high regard. Each idea contributes in some way to the session. It’s important to communicate that to the entire board.

Brainstorming can also be done in other ways than in a formal meeting. You can supplement in-person brainstorming with digital brainstorming. Some organizations have success in soliciting anonymous suggestions that way and sharing them as a group.

An idea is only an idea until it is implemented into your community. Don’t just ask for ideas but ask how they can be implemented and who will handle them. Don’t end the brainstorming session until board members are empowered and ready to implement a plan for further action. PMI Alliance is dedicated to helping your community be the best it can be. Consider a skilled HOA manager to assist you in selecting your board members and helping them achieve great things in their Dallas community.