Read any article about design thinking and there is usually talk about getting everyone in a room with stacks of Post-it® notes, sharpies and miles of whiteboards. However most of us, including myself, often find ourselves in situations where we need to generate ideas with a geographically distributed team. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way to make remote ideation sessions productive:
1. Prepare ahead
The energy of a remote meeting will be lower and it will be harder to engage people’s attention between emails and office distractions. Make sure you seed some ideators who will help to throw out new ideas if you start to hear crickets.
2. Go visual
Take notes in real time, create process models on the fly, or fill out charts. If participants see you capture their insights in real time they will know that you heard them and can correct you if you misunderstood a key point. It will also save you time typing up meeting notes. Gotta love efficiency.
3. Use virtual flipboards
Any ideation exercise that involves a group of people and one scribe can translate smoothly to a remote experience. I’ve seen a team stay engaged for hours with something as simple as creating a bulleted list on a slide while people call out concepts. I’ve also used the note shapes in Powerpoint to mimic virtual sticky notes. You could color code them and move them around like the real deal.
Have you tried any techniques for remote brainstorming? What worked? What didn’t?