7 Tips for How to Brainstorm Effectively with Your Team
Brainstorming is important for your team whether you are working remotely or in an office. It can help you overcome an already-existing problem or forge an entirely new path.
Now that many of us are working with at least a couple of remote colleagues, if not with entirely remote teams, it’s a good idea to reconsider those brainstorming processes when a small conference room full of half-finished coffee cups and sticky notes are a thing of the past.
“We can keep some of a live brainstorm’s basic building blocks in play, and add the necessary ‘twist’ to keep things engaging and video-call friendly,” Ximena Vengoechea explains in The Muse.
She offers seven tips for running a successful brainstorm.
Nail the scope
Defining the scope of your brainstorm is even more important in a remote setting as people can get more fatigued looking at a screen or more easily distracted by other things going on in their home offices.
To nail the scope, Vengoechea outlines that you need to articulate why you are meeting, choose your participants carefully, and keep the session as short as possible.
Prep your participants
To be as productive as possible, your brainstorm participants need have the necessary information going into the meeting so that you are not wasting time explaining, when you could be producing ideas.
“Tell them what’s expected of them in advance so they know how to prepare and show up to make the most of your time together,” Vengoechea recommends. “That could include things like the flow for the session, the goals of the brainstorm, and what role you’re hoping they’ll play.”
Keep them engaged
Some ways to keep your brainstorming engaging is to make it interactive and keeping to a set agenda. Another tactic Vengoechea recommends is planting some questions if the brainstorm flow seems to be stalled.
Make it easy to collaborate
Vengoechea suggests some collaboration techniques such as prompt slides in an online session or breakout rooms on a video chat.
Leverage digital tools
Take advantage of having your brainstorm in a digital space by utilizing the tools that are made available to you. It doesn’t need to be fancy.
“You can use digital tools to have participants add ideas, vote on ideas (emoji are great for this), group similar ideas, and more,” Vengoechea says. “The important part is to be able to share your screen or your file and for everyone to be able to edit at once to input their ideas.”
Don’t try to synthesize live
Don’t waste your time summarizing the brainstorm during the brainstorm.
“Instead, acknowledge any patterns or trends you’re seeing but save the in-depth analysis for later, when you’re on your own. Plan to share out results in a wrap-up doc, deck, or even Slack message depending on your company culture,” Vengoechea says. “This will be much more efficient for you and your team.”
Make sure you have a wrap-up plan before even starting your brainstorming session.
“For instance, before you part, ask participants to send over any assets or ideas not captured in your shared doc so you can ensure they are part of your synthesis process. Finalize next steps and assign owners for accountability as a group,” Vengoechea explains.