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Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Blueprinting

In the final session of the 2012 Small Business Leadership Academy, attendees took an in-depth look at brainstorming. For a company with a limited number of employees, it’s more important than ever to get the best from each of them. Many small business owners see that they have high-potential individuals who can become leaders, but they don’t bring their ideas out.

“What the cybernetic effect of communication tells us is that if people commit to an idea too soon, they’ll be stuck on that idea,” said Ruth Barratt, clinical assistant professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business. It’s important when you’re facing the prospect of asking your employees how you can innovate, that it be presented in an open way. They should take time to think by themselves in a quiet space. Then once the group re-convenes, write all the ideas down on a board, as quickly as possible.

Then work through the ideas. Don’t allow the extroverts in the group, or the negative people in the group, to interfere with the idea creation process. So while you’re putting all the ideas on paper, there should be no criticism of ideas. This allows for ideas that might seem silly or ill-conceived at first glance to get their proper consideration. It also gives those people who worry about offering the “perfect” idea a safe space to be more open and creative.

Changing the way you share ideas can have a large impact on your business as your high-potential employees feel increasingly comfortable with these aspects of idea-generation and leadership.


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The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U.S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.