Writing in Inc., Soren Kaplan explains how to take brainstorming activities that we are accustomed to conducting in face-to-face settings and move them online. With participants widely dispersed and only gathering virtually, there are some modifications to traditional brainstorming practices that might lead to greater success and impact.
Kaplan offers five steps for virtual brainstorming, some of which will be familiar to those who have done brainstorming in the past. These include: 1) get focused, 2) use categories to organize ideas, 3) share priorities, and 4) confirm ground rules. It is in confirming the rules that traditional brainstorming practices can be shared.
In addition to the typical ground rules for brainstorming, Kaplan adds a fifth step that seems particularly important for virtual teams. The fifth step is to create implementation teams, pairs of participants charged with carrying out the ideas developed in the brainstorming session according to a timeline and due date. Creating pairs enhances the sense of accountability and when combined with some ongoing support, maximizes the chance of achieving real results.
Although the fifth step seems particularly important for virtual teams, I think it is worth trying in brainstorming in face-to-face settings as well. Remote teams have distance to overcome, but face-face-teams have the many other calls on their time to overcome so a strategy to enhance accountability will be valuable there as well.