Technology in Business: Tips for Successful Online Brainstorming
Modern business managers need to be skilled at working with teams in virtual environments.
Telecommuting, flex hours, off-site contract labor, and global workforces have made it common for businesses to have teams with members in multiple locations. While technologies ranging from basic e-mail to online meeting platforms bring these teams together, it’s still up to business managers to ensure a team is succeeding.
When team members aren’t in the same room, it can be a struggle to keep everyone on the same page. This is particularly true of brainstorming. But if you want to advance a career in modern management, you need to be capable of managing online environments, including brainstorming sessions. Here are some online brainstorming tips you can use.
Have a Pre-Brainstorming Meeting
When everyone works in the same office, team members have the opportunity to get to know each other in person. But that’s not the case for teams with members in multiple locations. That’s why a pre-brainstorming meeting can be helpful. Before any work begins, bring everyone together on a conference call or videoconference, with no other purpose than allowing your team members to get to know one another. This can help everyone feel more comfortable working together.
Set Clear Expectations
Brainstorming works best when team members have the latitude to come up with a wide variety of ideas. However, expectations are important, and that’s doubly true when you need people in different locations to work together smoothly. Before you start brainstorming, make sure everyone knows the ultimate goal of the project, how the decision-making process will work, and who is responsible for moderating the conversations. That can help avoid some of the confusion and uncertainty that can arise when people aren’t working face-to-face.
Expand the Process
The classic brainstorming session happens in one room over the course of several hours. But when your team is geographically separated, you should consider expanding the process to accommodate the unique challenges of working online. For instance, you can use:
Individual Brainstorming: Have everyone come up with ideas before they come to the meeting and use the meeting to refine the best ideas.
Small-Team Brainstorming: Pair team members up and have each pair conduct their own brainstorming session. Then have a second session where each pair presents their best ideas to the team.
Multi-Round Brainstorming: Instead of trying to come up with incredible ideas in one meeting, divide meetings into smaller goals. For instance, you could use the first meeting to brainstorm basic, strategic approaches; use the next meeting to transform those approaches into broad ideas; and use yet another meeting to turn the broad ideas into specific ones.
Use the Right Technology
There are many online brainstorming tools available. The trick is using the one that will work best for your needs. Consider:
Cost: Conference calls and shared-document services like Google Docs are typically inexpensive. Some advanced whiteboard programs are not. Before choosing a technology, make sure it’s cost-effective. For instance, if a lot of your team members are freelancers or contractors, you probably don’t want to use a program that requires obtaining an individual license for each user.
Function: Do your team members need to share lots of images, or will they mostly be sharing data like timelines and project specs? Will team members want to speak on the phone or by video, or can they use an online chat feature or message board? Will the brainstorming bring in multiple divisions (e.g., marketing, design, and production) or will all elements come from one division? To choose the right technology, you have to know your needs.
Usability: The more complicated an online brainstorming tool is, the more training users will need. If your team isn’t likely to use a complicated technology often, you may want to choose a tool that is easy to use so you can avoid the need for training.
How Can You Learn More About Modern Management?
If you want to excel in a modern management career, one of the best choices you can make is to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA degree). Part business degree and part management degree, an MBA can help you gain the advanced skills you need to succeed in the modern business world, where online brainstorming is just one of the many challenges you’ll face.
If you’ve previously been hesitant to earn a master’s of business administration because you’re worried about disrupting your current job and life, take a look at online education. In the same way online technology has changed business, it’s changed how you can earn a degree. Now, many of the best business schools offer you the opportunity to earn your MBA online, which can make it possible to handle your coursework right from home. Plus, online MBA programs let you take advantage of flexible scheduling, giving you the power to study at whatever time of day works best for you.
Managing in the modern business world requires the right set of skills. Through an online MBA program, you can gain those skills and more.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Business Administration degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.