It is essential to draw on the best ideas from a wide range of people within your organization. The problem is that no one can travel to central locations, even if they have a travel budget. The entire company could benefit from a boost in creating a culture of innovation for the long term.
You’re used to brainstorming sessions that involve people sitting in a conference room with cups of coffee and carbo-loaded snacks for fueling the brain and colored papers on the walls. How can you transform this high-energy, face-to-face brainstorming session into a virtual one where each participant has access to only a smartphone and a keyboard? How can you “bake in” innovation into your organization beyond this single opportunity?
We have created a NEW IDEA in seven steps! A process to create a virtual environment NEW IDEA This simple process promotes seven critical behavior. Each of these behaviors is described below.
1. No Negativity:
Your first reaction should be positive and not harmful. You can’t use body language or gestures to express enthusiasm, so affirm it with a few words: It’s great. Wow. It sounds great. When nonverbal cues do not exist, silence can be taken to mean criticism. Even if you disagree with the idea, saying “yes” can signal that you are open to listening.
2. Encourage the person:
Allow the person to share an idea. Sometimes, a new idea may sound a bit crazy. Do not let yourself be tempted to jump to other ideas. Instead, ask a few questions to get to the core of the concept. Example: “Now that’s a really out-of-the-box idea. How did you come up with that idea? This statement can be a motivator for your colleague, but it can also cause an immediate shutdown. Are you satisfied with this?
3. Listen and wait.
Working remotely can be very time-consuming. It is essential to allow for time for reflection. A follow-up session can be either asynchronous or at the same time. This session should not take place more than one or two working days after the brainstorming session. This allows everyone to absorb new ideas and gives them the opportunity to ask questions and provide input.
4. Input: Use the word “and” instead of “but” to build on your colleague’s ideas.
This shows that you have been paying attention and believe that his concept is valid. If your colleague suggests your company offer a live chat service for customers, you might respond with, “Yes, we can also host monthly virtual advisory boards where we can gain a deeper understanding of their problems.” It’s better than “But a Customer Advisory Board would give us much more understanding than a Chat Line.”
5. You can document the idea.
There are many benefits to this: Ideas can be uncensored or unfiltered by well-intentioned writers who might miss critical concepts because they are struggling to keep up. Because they can share their ideas anonymously, people are less likely to be inhibited. You can generate more pictures in a shorter time by everyone brainstorming simultaneously instead of waiting for their turn. People can see all the ideas that are available on the virtual table, and this often inspires more ideas.
6. Explore your options:
After people have gotten their brains going with brilliant ideas, it is time to make decisions about which opinions are worth further exploration. Team members can use virtual voting tools to help them come up with a list of winning ideas. You might consider setting up a follow-up meeting to discuss the selection process. Some people struggle with switching from their right brains to their left. Participants might want to have the opportunity to organize and synthesize ideas before they vote. A second meeting could be arranged if only a small number of people make the final decision. This may help to avoid any hurt feelings.
Now that you have a list of winning ideas, you need to actually do something with them. Otherwise, you’ll have wasted your energy and created unrealistic expectations. Next, you might make action plans to support your ideas before seeking approval from a decision-making body. Other times, members of the team may be empowered to take action on their own. Sometimes, an argument can be left alone, and the step is to ignore it. To ensure that people don’t get left behind, communicate to everyone the disposition of any ideas.
It takes practice and planning to adapt this process to virtual environments. You’ll find that even those who were reluctant to participate in the past will start to apply these techniques to their daily meetings. Bottom line: People who believe their ideas are being taken seriously will be more excited to brainstorm ideas next time.