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Tips for Planning a Successful Remote Ideation Workshop for Startups/
Remote ideation workshops are a great way for technology startups to address business-related problems through creative exercises that prioritize speed, teamwork, and innovative thinking. This article provides tips for planning and running a successful remote ideation workshop.
Plan a Productive Remote Ideation Workshop
Uncover the Workshop’s Purpose
It’s essential to involve the client in the planning process to uncover the workshop’s purpose. Remote ideation workshops are designed to help teams assess business problems and share potential solutions without fear of judgment. It’s important to ensure that there is a specific challenge that the client wants to address and that there is intent to act on the ideas generated during the workshop.
Write a Problem Statement and Define Clear Goals
To ensure the success of the workshop, it’s crucial to write a problem statement and define clear goals. The problem statement should describe the challenge at hand and explain its impact, while the goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Gather and Prepare Data
Data can be a convincing way to reinforce the workshop’s problem statement and goals. Ask the client for quantitative data from sources such as Amplitude, Google Analytics, and Microsoft Clarity, as well as qualitative data from user interviews, online reviews, customer service tickets, and the like. Review the data and turn key metrics and user insights into simple graphics, slides, and talking points that participants can reference during the workshop.
Decide Who to Invite
It’s important to invite the right people to the workshop to ensure that it’s productive. Participants should include designers, product owners, marketing experts, customer service reps, and engineers. Be sure to keep the guest list small, as some participants may not have the confidence to speak up in larger groups, and their insights and ideas will be missed.
Communicate Logistical Details
While the ideation workshop may be remote, its logistical details cannot be ignored. Participants will need access to online collaboration tools, and time zone differences will need to be accounted for. Send a calendar invite with an agenda and a short description that helps participants understand the nature of the workshop, and send a reminder three days before the event.
How to Run an Effective Remote Ideation Workshop
Introduce the Problem Statement and Goals
Start the workshop by introducing yourself and defining the problem statement. This will give the group a challenge to rally around. Make sure every creative exercise points back to the problem statement or goals, so don’t rush this step. Reframe the problem with the “How might we…” format, as it creates a sense of possibility and prompts collaboration.
Give Participants Context
Once the participants understand the problem and feel comfortable with each other, it’s time to provide additional context for making decisions and generating concepts. Share the quantitative and qualitative findings you gathered before the workshop, or devote this time to special guests you invite. Everything presented must be easy to understand. Don’t overwhelm participants with too much information. Maintain positive momentum from your icebreaker by providing high-level insights and keeping it moving.
Schedule Breaks Throughout the Workshop
The introductory phases of the workshop force participants to process a lot of new information. Once ideation exercises begin, most participants will be engaging their brains in totally new ways. Allotting time for breaks allows everyone to step away from their screens and stay mentally sharp.
Find the Right Mix of Tools and Activities
Online tools such as Miro or Mural allow participants to collaborate in a shared environment. Whatever tools you choose, you need a place to quickly capture everyone’s ideas and then access them later for further organization and documentation. There are many tried-and-true ideation activities, such as Worst Possible Idea, Provocation Method, Opposite Thinking, Mashup, Crazy 8s, and Round Robin.
Diverge and Converge
Diverge-and-converge is a simple yet powerful approach to ideation that you should apply to every exercise in your client’s workshop. Essentially, it entails breaking activities into periods when participants work on tasks independently (diverge) and communally (converge). Diverge-and-converge curbs groupthink, and when concepts are shared anonymously during converge periods, it prevents participants from deferring to ideas submitted by influencers in the group. It also enables participants to process information and generate solutions at their own pace.
Recap and Document
After completing all ideation exercises, it’s time to recap. This helps solidify insights and key takeaways and to see how the group’s ideas address the problem statement. Schedule a break and give participants a chance to regroup. When everyone reconvenes, congratulate them on their hard work and creativity, but remind them that the workshop’s goal isn’t simply a list of new ideas; it’s an actionable plan that provides a path forward. Document the workshop’s activities and outcomes to remain accessible to all relevant stakeholders.
Ideation Is Ongoing
Ideation isn’t a one-off activity but an ongoing practice that you can improve upon over time. If you’re a designer with a startup client, your ethos is likely still evolving. You’re in a unique position to champion a culture of collaboration and innovation. Make it a goal to schedule a quarterly remote ideation workshop that addresses a specific business need. Facilitating will get easier, staff will grow more comfortable participating, and your client’s vault of ideas will expand and mature.
Running an effective remote ideation workshop requires meticulous planning and execution, but with the right mix of tools and activities, participants can generate innovative solutions to complex problems. Apply these tips to make your next remote ideation workshop a success.
In conclusion, remote ideation workshops are an effective way for technology startups to address business-related problems through creative exercises that prioritize speed, teamwork, and innovative thinking. By following a structured approach to planning and running the workshop, designers, and facilitators can help teams achieve alignment, overcome distance, and generate actionable plans for addressing specific business needs. With proper preparation, effective facilitation, and ongoing practice, remote ideation workshops can become a powerful tool for fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation in startups.