Brainstorming has always been an essential part of every team's creative process. What happens during the process is that a group of people meet and think of different ways to solve a problem until a single workable solution has been found. However, groups nowadays avoid this process, and even various studies show that group brainstorm sessions are usually not as successful as the individual ones. It is a challenge to do this in teams and when it is a virtual team then things may seem to be all the more difficult. However, you need not worry as there are effective ways of conducting successful sessions with virtual teams and in fact, we shall discover a few tips on how to conduct brainstorming sessions right away. The entire session can be divided into three stages to help make things even easier.
Since you will be managing the brainstorming session virtually, things will be a little different. So, before starting the session it is necessary to get everyone's ideas, instead of wasting time during the session doing the same. To get everyone's ideas for the session you need to.
Form an online space – Create an informal space online where the members of the team can come and share their ideas. You can use a popular tool like ezTalks to create your online space.
Try maintaining a limit – If you offer complete freedom it only comes in way of creativity and if you set limitations it may kick start the imagination of your team members. Allow your team a certain time limit, may be 3 days to a week, within which they need to come up with their ideas. You could also set a limit on the number of ideas each member can submit or you can offer them a word limit which helps them make their ideas as concise and clear as is possible.
Have rules – You have already provided a framework and the next thing you can do to get even better ideas is to set rules. It may not be that difficult to come up with any random ideas, but if you set a few rules which the members need to follow then they are sure to come up with better and helpful ideas.
Do not discuss the ideas – If you discuss the ideas then decisions can be made even before the real brainstorming session starts. So, let everyone know beforehand that only when all the members are in the brainstorming session that the discussion will start.
Once you have the ground work ready you now need to invite everyone on a conference call using a video conferencing software like ezTalks. However, even while on the conference call, there are a few things you need to give importance to.
You need a moderator – Many a time you may have been on a call and everything is discussed apart from the main topic. It is because live video conferences or conference calls lose track until there is someone to maintain the same. So, make sure you hire someone to constantly ensure each member is on track. A good moderator makes sure everyone is involved in the brainstorming session, and sees to it that the ideas are carefully heard and discussed, and then a decision taken.
The first few minutes must be reserved for warming up – once the call starts, a few minutes need to be reserved for the hellos or so to say for the quick informal session.
Start from the top – after the warm-up session, the real business starts. How the ideas suggested by the team members will be handled is in the hands of the team-lead and the moderator. Let everyone on the call know how you plan to do things and then start discussing the first idea.
Have a timer – Conference calls, be it for brainstorming or any other reason, can go on and on if limits are not set. You need not necessarily discuss every idea. It will be best to set a timer for an hour or two to discuss the ideas, after the end of which the team decides what action to take. If somehow the idea you chose does not work, you can plan another brainstorming session sometime later.
Now that you have decided which idea you will follow, the next thing you need to decide is which member needs to do what in the course of implementation of the idea. Send every member an email with details of the meeting, the ideas that have been discussed, and delegate the tasks to the members. If you reach this stage and also are aware of what exactly you will do and how then be happy as you have managed to hold a successful virtual brainstorming sessions.
So, now that know how to conduct a brainstorming session in a virtual team, waste no time, follow these tips and enjoy the most amazing virtual brainstorming ever.