As companies adapt to post-pandemic circumstances, they have come to realize the need to encourage innovation in a time when people look for certainty and assurance. With change and evolution, remote work has become the norm for many industries, and team brainstorming has changed to a virtual room where challenges are faced.
Currently, managers are determined to transform and improve workplaces in every possible way, starting with how brainstorming is approached to encourage innovation effectively. Every decision that is taken during such sessions impacts or defines the direction organizations choose at every level. Meanwhile, this ability has emerged as a crucial asset for many businesses. When done right, team brainstorming promotes honest discussions that in return lead to effective decision-making and innovation helping companies thrive.
Therefore, the way companies assemble current demands and help their staff innovate at work can significantly impact how work is approached and consequently yield higher productivity. As more leaders embrace digital transformation, 84 percent see innovation as an integral part of business success in the long run. With that said, knowing what effective brainstorming techniques can help your organization create a bold and inventive environment is more crucial than ever. So, we will list our actionable methods and all you have to do is implement them.
Traditional brainstorming vs. virtual brainstorming
But before we move to techniques, let’s first discuss and see if there are any differences between in-person and online sessions. Does your organization really need a new approach?
The shift to a remote/hybrid environment has granted technology a vital role in increasing the effectiveness of teamwork. Since virtual sessions enhance creative performance by almost 50 percent of a standard deviation, team brainstorming can be more effective when replacing in-person meetings with virtual and written ones. Moreover, the same study has found that nearly 70 percent of participants may perform worse in a traditional team brainstorming session.
So, it is safe to say that an online approach can become a game changer when it comes to pioneer work. Admittedly, many leaders struggle to adapt to new practices. However, since larger virtual groups generate more ideas, you need to lead by example and find ways to manage sizable virtual groups to generate more progressive ideas.
There are many factors that impact team openness and creativity, but which factor is important while brainstorming? These steps will guide you while conducting a successful team brainstorming session online.
- Choose the right virtual collaboration platform for your team. Make sure everyone feels comfortable and knows how to use it. Ask each group member to submit their ideas anonymously. Dedicate from 30 to 60 minutes per team brainstorming session, depending on the complexity of the topic.
- Structure and visualize all the ideas. Once your team shares their thoughts, use a whiteboard or a mind map to display all the thoughts. Start classifying, detecting duplicates, and motivating team members to propose contradicting concepts without worrying about the consequences. By doing so, you will trigger discussions and encourage innovation.
- Evaluate. After organizing the ideas, allocate 10-15 minutes for an anonymous feedback session. During this time team members will be able to rate or vote for their favorite proposals.
- Discuss final decisions. Concentrate on the problem you’re trying to solve and use the obtained feedback to choose the most promising ideas. Then, create a clear implementation roadmap with specific milestones and KPIs.
How to stimulate employees to innovate at work
The goal is to continually innovate at work, during team brainstorming sessions, and at all levels. Leaders should not only encourage innovation, but also demonstrate it and lead by example. Only in this case will the work culture transform. During the pandemic, innovation and digitization have been happening incredibly fast. In fact, many companies accelerated their digitization of supply chain and interactions, as well as internal processes by three to four years.
The pandemic has sped up creativity by connecting people into broader virtual networks of teams. Therefore, the need to find ways to streamline online team collaboration and to help them innovate at work is vital. Overall, what is the main purpose of brainstorming if not driving ideas to help the organization succeed? Most companies realize the importance of innovation but fail in execution.
Below we share five ways to help you get your team out of a rut and encourage innovation:
1. Request individual ideation
Don’t wait for the team to get together to generate ideas. Ask each employee to prepare and bring their fresh notions to the table. Allow them enough time to research and brainstorm on their own so that when you get together, creativity has already been sparked.
2. Encourage honest discussions
Set clear goals and expectations for each solution you’re expecting to get. Remember that an environment of inclusion is necessary to innovate at work. So, everyone should feel confident sharing their thoughts. If an idea is rejected quickly, it’s less likely that the person will share more. However, honest discussions will help you approach the problem more realistically and determine what’s truly needed.
3. Promote anonymous brainstorming
This is a great way to ensure that all suggestions are considered equally. Each team member can share their ideas anonymously allowing everyone to vote for their favorites independently. Once the proposals are reprioritized according to the votes, the group can have more clarity to make the right choice. Although this method may take some time, it can bring up important feedback that otherwise could not have been revealed.
4. Invite new people
Having the same people brainstorming each week or month can lead to monotony. Don’t be afraid to have guests to shake things up a bit. Someone with a different background could bring fresh perspectives.
5. Follow up
Effective brainstorming conveys innovative ideas that should be structured and executed. Ensure these notions are brought to life and accomplish their purpose.
Benefits of enabling brainstorming and innovation
Beyond gathering and executing new ideas, concepts, products, or strategies, brainstorming as a team can bring more significant benefits. When people get a chance to spend time together in the same room (virtually or physically), it becomes an exciting time to bond. Working together with a common goal helps people to create unity and allows them a space to pause and free their minds from daily tasks. Since brainstorming sessions aren’t like any regular meeting where people are expected to have all the answers, these sessions encourage innovation and creativity.
When each person comes and shares their own perspectives and feels valued, confidence increases, and as confidence increases, individuals are willing to share more and be inspired by their colleagues. People who may feel isolated can find more connection during these sessions and become more productive.
Creative and critical thinking are boosted as each person gets time to express their opinion and think of ways to make the selected suggestions work. As these abilities are practiced continually, they will become part of everyday interactions, meaning that innovation will happen at every level of the organization. It takes time and practice, but if done constantly, those muscles will gain greater strength and change how your staff generates ideas and makes decisions.
The whole is better than the sum of its parts, and any team can learn and gain much from bringing their strengths together into effective brainstorming that leads to successful innovation.