Brainstorming by Email

Long ago and far away, when I worked for a multinational, sometimes I brainstormed with my team by email. I was working in Georgetown ON and had staff in Toronto, Regina and Abbotsford. Email was fairly new back then, and a welcome alternative to scheduling group conference calls across the time zones.

I could start with a discussion question sent to the customer service reps, asking them to add comments and send onto the production planners. The planners would give their input and send it on to the warehouse staff. Eventually, I’d get back an email that loosely mapped out a process. I’ve never used email so productively since.

Now, I don’t have staff but I still have a team. And I’m usually brainstorming ideas, not processes. Here’s the funny thing, I can sit by myself and scratch notes on paper… and get overwhelmed with ideas. So I start writing an email to my cohorts explaining and asking for feedback. And through that process, I often find clarity – without ever sending the email!

My trusted advisors work for me even when they don’t realize it. And I’ve discovered a powerful way to use email – even when the email is never sent.

Many small business owners work alone. Having trusted advisors is critical but they aren’t always available at, say 1am on a Saturday. I start a conversation anyway and often find answers – with their unknowing help – while they’re sleeping.

Sometimes the act of writing an email – explaining my dilemma – is enough to get the creative juices flowing again. The next time you’re feeling stuck in the middle of the night, give this a try.