Get everyone in the same room and we’ll get better results. Right? Well, maybe not. For one thing, when everyone is all in one room you have to take turns sharing. And while you’re waiting your turn you might decide your idea is stupid, or obvious, or simply not relevant to the course the conversation took while you were waiting.
A lot of terrific ideas go out the window this way. In fact it’s a big enough problem that there is a name for it - production blocking. The type of conversations we have during meetings are linear - one idea follows another. But the problem itself exists in a more three dimensional space. A technical innovation might create problems for R&D, distribution, supply chain and marketing. Face-to-face meetings can push many core issues to the side in order to follow one particular train of thought.
Get A Bigger Table
One way to bust through production blocking is to take your brainstorming sessions online. Dino Veizis, president of Video on Location, compares online brainstorming to a meeting where everyone has time to get things on the table.
“When you have a thought, you throw it into that space, and it’s there for everybody to see,” says Veizis. (This) “has increased our efficiency and productivity quite a bit.”
Online brainstorming doesn't just open up the “suggestion box” to more people, it also gives people the opportunity to make their contributions at the time of day when they do their best thinking. Good ideas can come when you’re in the shower, driving to work or taking a power-walk during lunch. Online brainstorming tools give employees the opportunity to post ideas while they are fresh, any time day or night.
If Two Heads Are Better than One, How About 20?
What’s the seating capacity of your nearest conference room? Ten? Twenty? It’s not only difficult to schedule this many people for a meeting, it starts becoming difficult to do business when there are too many people in the room. Online conferences don’t have these limitations. You can bring together people from all around the company, even all around the world when you brainstorm online.
Not only can you get more mind power, more subject matter experts and more creative thinkers together by going online, you have a built-in transcription of every session, complete with searchable notes. This makes it easy to recollect previous sessions and build upon original ideas.
When in Doubt Do Both
Let’s say that you’ve had some success with face-to-face idea generation. You don’t have to give up group processes to take advantage of online brainstorming tools. In fact you can get a lot of power by encouraging employees to post online at the same time that you’re running a face-to-face brainstorming session.
Similar to live tweeting a conference this one-two-punch not only opens the ideation process to more people in the company, it helps solve the problem of production blocking by giving your brainstorming team the ability to get ideas out into the open even while the course of conversation has taken a different twist.
Your brainstorming sessions are no longer limited to the number of seats in the conference room. They can be as big as your corporate network allows!