Internet collaboration can be a special challenge for teams charged with problem solving or general innovation. Virtual teams could be located at multiple, remote locations and even working at varying times. With a team such as this, how can you run an effective brainstorming session?
Online brainstorming, or also coined “electronic brainstorming” or “brain netting”, all describe a technique that uses the internet to share and develop ideas. A project manager or business owner will need to lead their team, guiding direction and encouraging interaction.
Here are some useful techniques to take your brainstorming further:
- Objective explanation. Clearly define the goal of the brainstorming session. This could be a solution, multiple solutions, or generating a list of ideas. Team members need to know the objectives to help focus the direction of a brainstorming project. Set a specific time-frame, either for the overall completion, or milestone dates for each phase of online brainstorming.
- Document access. One of the greatest challenges that a team will face is organizing and connecting ideas. Find a central server or use a cloud-based system to store the information. There are many online tools and apps to consider for sharing your team views and ideas. Each will vary in approach and complexity, and the right one can be critical in helping with your project.
- Idea probing. Sparking creative responses can be slow to start. Harbor a creative, non-judgmental environment. Combine both individual and group efforts and protect against criticism. A slow-starting session can get a kick start by asking a team member farthest away from the problem to throw out a radical idea.
- Explore further. Progressive brainstorming raises more questions than answers. With the answer to each question, raise several more questions, and so on. This allows for a team to delve in further which can prompt a better understanding… and more questions.
- Organize highlights. Good brainstorming will generate a lot of solutions, some passive and others extreme. Re-align the objective of the brainstorming with the outcome. Guide the group as the key points are outlined.
- Move forward. Great brainstorming will encourage participants to commit to the outcome. Especially when they provided the input and were involved in developing the solutions.
Brainstorming can be a fun way to solve a problem and discover new opportunities; both critical for business growth. More importantly, a successful brainstorming session will strengthen and unify a virtual team. Participants will go away with a sense of joint accomplishment and strengthened bonds. The new team focus can propel a business forward.