Better Ways to Brainstorm Online

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Think you can't run a creative or effective online brainstorming workshops....think again! This blog provides eight "Top-Tips" on how you can run better and more effective online brainstorming workshops with your virtual teams.

1. Have a Creative Online Facilitator

To provide inspiration and to keep people focused, have a good online creative facilitator. They will control the meeting with different tasks and exercises in line with the agreed workshop agenda. They need to provide guidance and inspiration, with clear instructions and good examples of what the meeting is trying to achieve. Many of the skills are covered by our Creative Facilitation Training that applies for both online and face-to-face meetings

2. Follow a Creative and Interactive Agenda

For best results, have a clear and tight agenda, but break it up with different tasks and exercises......and try to avoid long powerpoint presentations. The agenda below shows an agenda from a recent project where we split a "one-day workshop" into two separate sessions. Workshops are normally run for 12-16 delegates, who post ideas, either working alone, or with colleagues in virtual break-out rooms.  To help guide the agenda, consider using Edward De Bono's Six Hat Thinking.

3. Have Some "Zip-Zap Zoom" Rules

Running an effective online brainstorming meeting probably requires tighter control than a regular meeting. The good news, over the past 12 months, most people have had lots of experience of online meetings, both with work colleague and with friends. However, still pull together and agree some rules with your team.....because we all know that chaos can follow and nothing gets achieved. For online brainstorming, probably the most important rule is that "any idea is a good idea". Try to make your rules fun and creative!

4. Use Virtual Break-Out Rooms

We normally find that the best ideas are developed by small teams of 2 or 3 people. This can still be achieved online by using virtual break-out rooms that are available with most online meeting platforms. Think about the split of the teams in advance, so that you have people working together with the right levels of knowledge. When working with global teams, you might want to get people working together who all speak the same language. To save time during the meeting, set up and assign your break out teams in advance.

5. Use Different Techniques for Creative Thinking

As with a normal brainstorming workshops, the final outputs of the meeting are probably only as good as the inputs and stimulus materials that you use. We normally start by focusing on good quality consumer and customer insights that are defined in advance of the workshop. Allocate different insights to different break-out teams to maximise the range of ideas. We also use other techniques for "out of the box thinking" e.g. role play, random words, random images. For more details, sign-up to one of our Zip-Zap Ideas® public projects, with advice and techniques on how to run better virtual brainstorming projects

6. Fresh Thinking from Creative Agents

Working directly with Creative Agents and Creative-Thinking Consumers can provide a fast and effective way to co-create early ideas linked to agreed workshop objectives. For example, a single Creative Agents could be assigned to each of the virtual break-out rooms. Alternatively, Creative Agents can be used to generate fresh ideas in advance of the main brainstorming workshop. The video below shows how we run Consumer Innovation Labs™ with Creative-Thinking Consumers.

7. Fast Feedback from Online Target Consumers

Once you have developed a range of different ideas, you can use Zip-Zap Ideas® to get fast-feedback from target consumers and to help identify the ideas with greatest potential. Following the brainstorming workshop sessions, we often run overnight fastSCREEN™ consumer panels, for a faster and more cost-effective way of screening "leading ideas" with target consumers and key stakeholders. We typically screen between 24 and 48 mini-concepts that appear in random order...with consumers voting and adding comments. This service is available in all major markets. Watch this video to find our more.

8. Set Up Your Own Project With Zip-Zap Ideas®

You can set up and run your own online brainstorming workshops with the FREE version of Zip-Zap Ideas®. This gives you enough features for two free projects with five free users per project. Users are able to share and edit early ideas, add images and vote for their early favourites. To find out more, take a look at Zip-Zap Ideas® in action.

More Techniques and Support

Visit Zip-Zap Ideas® for more information and support on how to run more effective online brainstorming projects for your business. You can also sign-up to one of our Zip-Zap Ideas® public projects, with advice and different creative thinking techniques.

Get in touch if you have any questions or comments - we'd love to hear from you.

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