Creative processes are now very important for companies because it is only those who can create a difference who can stay one step ahead of the competition. As a result, what were once known as ‘brainstorms’ are once again on companies’ agendas. The ideas that appear as the result of brain storms enable companies to take important steps. For example, the Yaşar Boya Group’s new product, DYO Nano, is the result of just such a meeting. The strategy currently being pursued by Tansaş is a result of a brainstorming session in 2001. The Sabancı Cement Group’s decision to begin production of calcium aluminate was also taken at a brainstorming session.
At the US company Digital River, which is active in the field of e-commerce, Fridays are extremely busy. At 8 am each Friday morning the CEO Joel Ronning calls 45 senior personnel to a meeting. This ritual has been followed on a regular basis for three years. The Friday meetings produce new ideas on every subject, from training to sales. CEO Ronning says that these brainstorming sessions have earned the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company gives interesting awards to its personnel in order to encourage them to come up with good ideas. They include free beer at Friday lunch for the person who comes up with the best idea. Another major incentive to the personnel is the $2,500 which is awarded each quarter.
Boyner Holding’s T-Box brand was the result of such a process. One day Cem Boyner called all the high level executives together and said that they needed to create a revolutionary new product. After discussions which lasted for days, the T-Box, the first compressed clothing collection in Turkey, was born.
The brainstorming sessions which are used extensively throughout the world are used by major Turkish holdings and leading corporates such as Doğuş, Sabancı, Boyner, Yaşar, Orka, Tukaş and Evyap. As you will read in the examples below, the creative ideas that are produced in these sessions make important contributions to companies in terms of new products, brands, long-term strategies and management processes.
When did the brainstorming start?
The brainstorming technique was first introduced in the 1980s and began to be widely used in the 1990s. In the last 10 years in particular, companies have began to use the technique at regular intervals under the name of ‘Shared Intelligence’ and ‘Exploration Conferences’. The fact that the economy went into a crisis every four years meant that companies began to hold these sessions more frequently.
Osman Dinçbaş, the head of Ernst and Young Turkey, says: “The brainstorming method is extremely useful at times when creative radical ideas are needed. Particularly in times of crisis, companies often use brainstorming sessions in their internal exploration meetings.” To a certain extent, this process has created ‘brainstorming inflation’. In Turkey this technique is most frequently used by major groups and companies.
Four brainstorming examples from Yaşar
Yaşar Holding is one of the groups which has successfully applied the brain-storming technique. Yaşar Holding CEO Hasan Denizkurdu says that the sessions they have held in the company has resulted in many exemplary applications. The most recent of these occurred in the paint group. The paint group has developed an entirely new product. DYO Nano is the first product developed in Turkey using nano technology. Yaşar Denizkurdu explains: “This product was the result of ideas which came out of meetings with executives, most of them from the paint group. Moreover, it has achieved significant success on a global scale and we have applied for a patent.”
In recent years the Pinar Foodstuffs Group has made its mark with another first. It has introduced a system in which all the stages of the production process can be monitored over the Internet. This application was developed as a result of ‘shared intelligence’. It was a result of the same ‘shared intelligence’ that the Pinar group launched demijohns of water on the market under the slogan ‘Don’t get dust in your water’. Hasan Denizkurdu says that the OMI project was also a result of these meetings. This project, which covers the entire workforce, will produce an improvement in production costs.
“Shared Intelligence” at Doğuş
Doğuş Holding is another of the groups which have used the brainstorming technique. In 1994 the Group used this technique for Bank Ekspres and in 1996 for Osmanlı Bankası. Doğuş Holding Board Member Aclan Acar says that they hold regular brainstorming sessions under the name ‘Shared Intelligence’ in the companies under their management. In recent years these meetings have been held at Tansaş, Garanti Sigorta and Garanti Emeklilik.
In 2001 and at the end of 2002 brain storming meetings were held at Tansaş. The meeting that was held in September 2001 was very important because the 50 participants in this meeting, 21 of them from Tansaş, made an important contribution to the formulation of the road map the company is following today. Aclan Acar explains: “The basis of Tansaş’s main strategy, which has been reflected to the public, was developed at this ‘shared intelligence’ meeting. Many ideas appeared here, such as entering the supermarket segment, the creation of mini-, midi- and maxi-sized stores, the emphasis on fresh food, and the decision not to enter the hypermarket and discount categories.”
Brainstorming created a product in cement
Sabancı Holding Cement Group Chairman Erhan Kamışlı says that it is almost ten years since they began to use brainstorming. Sabancı Holding sometimes uses this technique, albeit not very frequently, for the cement group. Erhan Kamışlı explains his thoughts as follows: “We tend to use it not so much for our short-term decisions but for our long-term plans and strategic decisions. I think that, far from being useful, brainstorming can be harmful in procedures such as creating a product and taking decisions rapidly. This is because now the brainstorming must take place at the heart of the operation. In any case, every department frequently holds this kind of internal meeting.”
The Cement Group uses these meetings in an effective manner in long-term decisions. For example, a recently held meeting took the decision to launch an international product. As a result of this decision, the group entered the calcium alimunate cement sector. The group is continuing to grow very successfully on the global markets with this product.
THE KEY POINTS IN BRAINSTORMING
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO CHOOSE THE SUBJECT The subject should be defined very clearly in order to ensure that the brainstorming produces successful results. The title should be neither too broad nor too narrow. For example, a very broad topic such as ‘How can we rediscover the sector’ or a very narrow one such as “what colour should be paint the office” do not stimulate creativity.
THE MEETINGS SHOULD INCLUDE BREAKS Breaks should be included in the meetings in order for people to rest their brains while brainstorming. A 36 minute session with a six minute break right in the middle of it produces 66 percent more ideas than an uninterrupted 36 minute session.
THE RESULTS SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED It is important to put the ideas that emerge from brainstorming sessions into practice. If not, then people will stop taxing their brains and return to their work. People should be told that there will be a brainstorming session, and what it will be about, one or two days beforehand.
INDIVIDUAL BRAINSTORMING IS BENEFICIAL Individual brainstorming should definitely be added to group brainstorming sessions. This both makes people less nervous and increases the performance of the group.