Innovation, Idea Generation & Zoom Engagement

In the early phases, the challenge of COVID-19 and shelter at home created a flurry of problems – and creative solutions.  In recent weeks, though, the concern about ongoing work from home is that it may be dampening creativity, problem-solving and collaboration.  Here are some things to do in 2021 to tap into your team’s great ideas more effectively.

Innovation Capturing and Mind-Mapping

Most companies are excited to shift back to in-person meetings and office interactions as the positive vaccine news makes the end of COVID-19 more visible. Be sure to take time to evaluate the new tools you had to use for 2020 and how they could fit into your office culture and aid with company efficiencies.  Use questions to drive discussions around innovation/strategy, such as:

– What tools/resources are you using to work-from-home that you find most valuable?
– What was the number one tool/process from 2020 that drove your efficiency at work?
– What aspect of working in an office environment do you miss? What aspects do you not miss at all?
– What’s blocking you from being more successful than you already are?
– Based on your knowledge of current efforts to promote your products/services, what are the major internal barriers to selling your products/services to clients?
– How efficient is your team from an operational standpoint?

Mind-mapping can help you visualize data, track and create actionables from brainstorming sessions, build flow charts and manage projects.  Get your team to build out the sales process, record all the thoughts/initiatives from your TeamStrength meetings and look at data/systems in a new way with mind mapping software like MindManager (thank you, Jesper, for the recommendation!).

Idea Generation

“We demand discipline, we expect innovation.”  This quote made the rounds in TeamStrength meetings in 2020 and while the two are very different, both are imperative.  A great way to stay on top of innovation is running regular idea generation campaigns.  Some things to keep in mind from Steve Glaveski (co-founder of Collective Campus, a corporate innovation school):

– The best ideas don’t come from one person. Use software that allows people the chance to build on top of or add to ideas already submitted.  BrightIdea or Spigit both facilitate emergent, collaborative idea generation.
– Start with a framework – a simple criteria of what the ideas you’re looking for look like.
– Keep submitters of ideas anonymous to avoid turning it into a popularity contest.
– Create a task force or innovation committee with people you handpick who are knowledgeable (or able to learn more) and can determine good ideas from bad.
– Ensure that company culture, processes and resources align with what is required to innovate – execution matters most. Share feedback to submitters, set aside part of the R&D budget and incentivize leaders on long-term company impact.

Zoom Engagement

Use visuals more to drive engagement and pull people in. We all know how easy it is to get distracted in a Zoom meeting. With strategy sessions top of mind at our member companies, use visuals – like data and charts to illustrate 2020 – to pull people back into the discussion and break up a meeting.

Use Zoom tools to drive interaction. These tools are already enabled on user accounts, or can be enabled through the Zoom web portal Account Management page.

Polls – after activating polls under ‘Account Management > Account Settings, you will have the ability to create Polls in the Zoom web portal that you can then use in any meeting you host.  This is a great way to drive interaction with larger groups – where not everyone will have an opportunity to verbally interact.  Use it for ice-breaker type questions to learn more about the group or topical questions on the meeting content to gauge audience attention.
Whiteboard – this is automatically enabled on Zoom accounts. When you click Share Screen, you can select Whiteboard and you will be taken to a blank board you can draw/add text to. This can be saved as a PNG or PDF file afterwards.
Annotate – this feature is automatically enabled when you are using the Zoom Whiteboard (you can double check in Account Settings in the Zoom web portal). It gives all attendees the ability to add/change what is on the whiteboard that is being shared (they simply have to click ‘View Options >  Annotate’ in their own screen).

*To be able to use an iPad (with a separate whiteboard app & stylus) – click ‘Share iPhone/iPad’ instead and mirror screen. Note:  This eliminates the additional feature of annotating.

Use the breakout rooms for collaboration and connection. Break up larger groups into smaller rooms and give them an assignment.  “Come back with your group’s top three ideas for creative cost-cutting in 2021.”  Give them time, then have one from each group share the ideas with the whole room.  Or pair up attendees for some peer accountability on progress and action items, or collaboration to move past obstacles.

Creativity and longer-term thinking may have suffered some during 2020.  Use some of these strategies to bring back the superpower of collaboration to make your business better in 2021!