What Can You Buy For An Imaginary $1 Million?

The quick answer is – a whole slew of great ideas. And, surprisingly, those ideas might not cost much at all — in real dollars. Here’s how I came to this insight.

Decision Toolbox is a 100% virtual company, so our annual all-staff meeting is hugely important. At a recent one, we organized into tiger teams, small cross-functional groups of people who brainstorm intensively around a specific topic. Each group had the same topic: if you had $1 million to spend on improving the company, how would you spend it?

We certainly don’t have a million bucks lying around, but the tiger teams went into high gear and filled a dozen flip-chart pages with some great ideas. Once the leadership team consolidated all those ideas, we realized that 80% of them could be implemented without spending a penny. The ideas included process changes, time management tips, performance motivators, and more. And no team spent the entire $1 million.

Removing the limitations and confinements of the brainstorm opened the idea floodgates. Think about it: imagine you went into a tiger team meeting and said, “We have $3000 to invest in improving the company. How should we spend it?” Before the creative juices even start flowing, you’ve put a box around everyone’s mind. They’re focusing on cost rather than ideas. Even if you encourage them to think outside the box, you’ve already got a box.

Granted, with $1 million, you still have a box. But for most of us, a million-dollar box is so big that just about anything is possible. If you are an $80 billion global corporation, you might need to use $1 billion for this exercise, and lucky you. One way or the other, the goal is to eliminate any boundaries or restrictions.

A couple of extra value-adds: this approach makes the exercise fun, as no idea is too crazy — and we heard some crazy ones. In addition, brainstorming is a team-builder. Not only do people feed off of one another’s energy and become more and more engaged, but they also gain a glimpse of each other’s thinking and values.

So you could say that spending $1 million is free. The ideas you get, however, may be priceless.

Kim Shepherd
Kim Shepherdhttp://www.dtoolbox.com/
AS CEO of Decision Toolbox, Kim Shepherd leads the company’s growth strategy, primarily through developing partnerships, alliances and as an active member of the Los Angeles and Orange County human resources community. A recognized thought leader by HR organizations nationwide including the Human Capital Institute, Kim is a regular speaker at national and regional events on various business models. Kim joined Decision Toolbox in 2000, and brought her unconventional approach to the company she had admired as a client. Today Decision Toolbox is 100% virtual, with more than 100 team members working remotely across the U.S. This company is a Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. This unique business model has played a key role in the company being awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Decision Toolbox was also named one of the "Fastest Growing Private Companies" by the Orange County Business Journal in 2012. In addition, they have been named 3 years running to the INC 500/5000 List of Fastest Growing Private Companies and have been a 7-time recipient of the HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen for Midmarket and Emerging Markets. Calling Kim unconventional is an understatement – her former endeavors include 10 years as a TV and Foreign Correspondent, a stint at Club Med and a near miss at a spot on the Olympic ski team. Kim is an active member of the Adaptive Business Leaders Executive Roundtable and the National Association for Women Business Owners (Orange County Chapter). She served on the Executive Board of Trustees for Girls Incorporated of Orange County and is also the Board Chair for Working Wardrobes. She is also a former member of Impact Giving. Kim is the recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owners (Orange County Chapter) 2013 Innovator of the Year Award, the 2014 Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year, and the 2015 Family Matters Award from WomanSage.
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Bharat Mathur

Great idea here, Kim; Thank You!

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