Project brainstorming on the phone

1 Jul 2008 - 10:47am
6 years ago
6 replies
501 reads
Darren Ellis
2007

Anyone have good tips for running a brainstorming session over a conference call? I'm working on a project with 1/2 the team located in another state. We're at the beginning of a project and I would like to ensure good participation and idea sharing, but not having the face to face communication seems like it could be a restraint. Setting up meeting communication guidelines would help, and sharing whiteboard photos at the end of the session could ensure ideas were captured correctly (maybe I'm answering my own question here).

Anyway, any tips would be welcome.

_________________________________________________________________
Need to know now? Get instant answers with Windows Live Messenger.
http://www.windowslive.com/messenger/connect_your_way.html?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_messenger_072008

Comments

1 Jul 2008 - 2:30pm
Sarah Kampman
2008

I do this frequently.

The most useful piece of advice is simply to limit the number of people
on the call and to designate one person as moderator. 5-8 participants
is a reasonable number -- too many more, and you end up with people
frustrated into silence when they can't get a word in edgewise.

The most valuable tools I've found have been:
* Google Docs - Very easy for multiple people to create, view, and
modify documents simultaneously. I particularly like the Spreadsheet
application because it's so flexible.
* Conceptshare.com - Slightly clunky UI for sharing and commenting on
graphics as a distributed group -- but it's better than the other
related sites I tried.
* Instant Messenger - Handy for helping folks take minor issues
"offline" and for individuals to virtually "raise their hand" to the
moderator so that nobody's ideas get missed.

-Sarah Kampman

-----Original Message-----
Anyone have good tips for running a brainstorming session over a
conference call? I'm working on a project with 1/2 the team located in
another state. We're at the beginning of a project and I would like to
ensure good participation and idea sharing, but not having the face to
face communication seems like it could be a restraint. Setting up
meeting communication guidelines would help, and sharing whiteboard
photos at the end of the session could ensure ideas were captured
correctly (maybe I'm answering my own question here).

1 Jul 2008 - 6:17pm
Darren Ellis
2007

Thanks for the reply, Sarah. The group will be roughly 5 people so
that's good.

I like the idea of using Google docs for sharing and capturing notes
immediately. I also discovered someone in the other office has a Mac
so we can position our laptops appropriately and fire up video
conferencing via iChat.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30944

1 Jul 2008 - 2:59pm
Eric Swenson
2008

As Sarah indicates, online collab tools work well... In addition to
the ones she lists, I have used a bunch including WebEx, Adobe Acrobat
Cnnect Pro, MS Live Meeting (best for Windows-based shops).... These
tools are a bit different than the ones Sarah mentions because of
their meeting management tools, etc. They're designed to handle a more
robust set of situations that might arise -- like in a brainstorming
situation. One minute, you might want to be literally "drawing" on a
virtual whiteboard for everyone to see...the next minute, you decide
to open up a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet -- or a Powerpoint -- or
whatever -- and share it, manipulate it, and so on. I just like the
flexibility the behemoths offer. But there are downsides, too (cost,
bureacratic configs, etc.)

I use these services for document reviews, collaborative writing, and
ideation sessions in various forms. If you've done a lot of webinars,
you'll know that the key to running a successful meeting using any of
these tools is preparation. Make sure you send clear login data,
browser requirements, etc. And declare a log on time along with an
actual meeting start time. People will inevitably be IMing in the
background... Campfire is a good IM collab support tool, although I'm
not a big fan of its big brother, Basecamp.

BTW, some collaboration portal platforms & wikis allow for real-time
collaboration, too. If you haven't chosen a project-management/
collaboration site (for syncing up project plans, monitoring resource
burn, maintaining conversational communications, file repository,
etc.) you may want to consider an all-in-one.

Have a fun meeting!

-- Eric

On Jul 1, 2008, at 11:47 AM, D E wrote:

>
> Anyone have good tips for running a brainstorming session over a
> conference call? I'm working on a project with 1/2 the team located
> in another state. We're at the beginning of a project and I would
> like to ensure good participation and idea sharing, but not having
> the face to face communication seems like it could be a restraint.
> Setting up meeting communication guidelines would help, and sharing
> whiteboard photos at the end of the session could ensure ideas were
> captured correctly (maybe I'm answering my own question here).
>
> Anyway, any tips would be welcome.
>
> _________________________________________________________________
> Need to know now? Get instant answers with Windows Live Messenger.
> http://www.windowslive.com/messenger/connect_your_way.html?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_messenger_072008
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

1 Jul 2008 - 9:29pm
Eric Swenson
2008

I forgot to mention this earlier...If you are into mindmapping, you
might want to look into MindJet's "Connect" collaboration service. I
haven't used it, but am looking to test it soon.
See: http://www.mindjet.com/products/mindjetconnect/default.aspx

-- Eric

++++++++++++++++++++++++++
: eric swenson
: swensonia inc
: eswenson at swensonia.com

2 Jul 2008 - 6:44am
Pooja Chinnapattan
2008

Hi,

I've used the trial version of http://www.octopz.com/ much like what Eric
mentioned a virtual whiteboard -for collaboration and brainstorming, with on
screen annotations, audio/video conferencing, also supports standard file
formats and all. Pretty neat- I say.

Pooja

On 7/2/08, Eric Swenson <news at swensonia.com> wrote:
>
> I forgot to mention this earlier...If you are into mindmapping, you might
> want to look into MindJet's "Connect" collaboration service. I haven't used
> it, but am looking to test it soon.
> See: http://www.mindjet.com/products/mindjetconnect/default.aspx
>
> -- Eric
>
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> : eric swenson
> : swensonia inc
> : eswenson at swensonia.com
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

2 Jul 2008 - 8:34am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Hi,

Google spreadsheet is good -- people can glance at other ideas to
stimulate their own.

Small groups are best and it is easy to enter things in a spreadsheet.
Have a dedicated notetaker who is not part of the brainstorming type
the notes in (let all the others focus their cognitive efforts on the
items. Combine the lists. Instill a bit of competitive spirit by
"trying for 50 or more items for each group". Set a number that you
expect will be a bit of a stretch. Make explicit ground rules and
send to each group. There should be no criticism verbally between
groups or internally with each group. Forget the video for this, that
will likely distract from the issue.

Publish the items and invite people to add things they think of after
the meeting for several days if possible.

Assign a remote facilitator to enforce the basic rules of
brainstorming and keep things going on the remote end.

Test out Google Spreadsheet with a few people first to get the
technology down so you aren't wasting time that could be used for idea
generation. If you use something else, do a pilot run. LiveMeeting
is somewhat cumbersome so if you use it and are not really familiar
with it, do a test run.

There is a term in the brainstorming research called "production
blocking" which is anything that blocks the production of ideas,
including side conversations, war stories that take up time that
should go to other ideas, technology glitches, and evaluation
apprehension if managers or senior people are there or listening in.
I would advise not mixing people of widely different statuses. I like
to list the things that will reduce the effectiveness of brainstorming
when I introduce the meeting and note that the facilitators will warn
people if they are violating a ground rule (nicely of course).

Ask your remote facilitator to write the question that you are
addressing on the board, literally. If you have people at multiple
sites, ask them to write the question or problem down on a sheet of
paper. This helps people who are remote stay in tune with the purpose
of the session.

Ask people to do a bit of prep by writing down some ideas for the
question or problem before the sessions. You might also ask them to do
some homework (look at things that might provoke ideas, so some
reading related to the topic area.

I' ve written a chapter on brainstorming based on the research
literature over the last 25 years or so. I've also been experimenting
with application of the research recommendations and they actually
work quite well in practice. I would be quite interested in hearing
how your session went. Amy Cueva and I did a talk on brainstorming at
the recent UPA conference where we highlighted some key best
practices/ground rules and some variations on brainstorming like
brainwriting and free listing. If you are interested, you can
download some of our notes at
http://www.madpow.net/events/UPA08/UPA2008_Brainstorming_BackUpMaterials.ppt

Thanks and good luck
Chauncey

On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 7:17 PM, Darren Ellis <anttanant at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Thanks for the reply, Sarah. The group will be roughly 5 people so
> that's good.
>
> I like the idea of using Google docs for sharing and capturing notes
> immediately. I also discovered someone in the other office has a Mac
> so we can position our laptops appropriately and fire up video
> conferencing via iChat.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=30944
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

Syndicate content Get the feed