Group brainstorms serve many purposes. They’re useful just to get all the people attached to a project into a room so everyone is clear on the brief and who will be tackling it. Traditionally the start of the creative process, the intent of these sessions is to orient the teams and get initial thinking around the problem out into the open, and to discuss the validity of general creative directions over others. 

HURDLES: These are the toughest to run remotely. The reliance on a whiteboard, a facilitator and fluid collaboration that are the earmark of the first ideation sessions are hard to replicate over a screen. The quick, almost improvisational way ideas build on one another gets lost over Zoom. Conversation is more compartmentalized on calls than in a room.

TIPS: Teams in virtual brainstorms need to prepare more ahead of time to seed ideas, and it requires more engagement from everyone on the call to keep the conversation moving, the ideas focused, and the next steps clear at the conclusion. Using shared documents or drawing tools (like https://www.invisionapp.com/feature/freehand) can provide a way to record or articulate ideas for the group.

Small team concepting

This aspect of idea development is usually where the magic happens. A small team (or creative copy/design partners) collaborate closely to shape an idea into a form that’s sharable to the larger team and eventually our client.

HURDLES: With established small teams, the process doesn’t change much, but finding the time to check in with one another becomes even more critical.

TIPS: It seems like we’re on more meeting calls these days rather than fewer. And that everyone is always home, always available, makes scheduling them in abundance easier. But creative pairs need to make sure to set up recurring daily (or even more frequent) “bounce sessions” designed to iterate on a core concept. At first, it’s verbal, then it becomes a work-share, back-and-forth to progress an idea into its best form. But frequency matters in this phase, balanced with individual focus time to progress the work. Schedule management is crucial here.

Teams in virtual brainstorms need to prepare more ahead of time to seed ideas, and it requires more engagement from everyone on the call to keep the conversation moving, the ideas focused, and the next steps clear at the conclusion.”

About the Author

Dan Schrad

Creative Director

Dan has helped to connect brand thinking with business metrics for major B2B and B2C brands over the last two decades. Which sounds like a long time, but hasn’t felt like it.