Brainstorming with GroupZap

GroupZap is ideal for brainstorming. There are many different ways of brainstorming with a team, but the method that we've found works best for us is:

  1. Prepare - set up the brainstorm with your team so everyone knows what's going on
  2. Brainstorm
    • Silent Idea Generation - get individual thoughts onto stickies
    • Cluster the Ideas - structure and group similar stickies
    • Discuss and Consolidate - discuss the themes, give the clusters headings and generate consensus
  3. Complete - thank everyone, send around results and follow up actions

Prepare

Define a problem or issue statement

Start by creating a draft statement of the problem or issue that the brainstorm is about.

Be specific about the purpose of the brainstorm, but avoid limiting the outcomes by using restrictive language.

Tour Step
Tour Step

Recruit the team

Create a GroupZap whiteboard and let the team members know when you plan to hold the brainstorm.

You can use our simple email form, or just include the URL into your usual meeting invite system.

Don't forget to provide the conference call details, or meeting room location! GroupZap isn't just for remote teams, it can be used in the same room with everyone using a laptop too.

Set up the workspace

Change the title of the whiteboard in the admin settings and maybe add a note or text to the board with your draft issue statement.

Tour Step
Tour Step

Brainstorm

1. Introduce and Explain

Once everyone is together, make any necessary introductions and outline the reasons for the brainstorm.

Explain the structure and timings (as described below) of the process so that everyone understands. Particularly highlight the importance of maintaining silence during the silent phases and encourage people to add new ideas at any time!

Ask them to suspend their opinions and judgements about the process and just try it! If they want to comment, there will be an opportunity to provide feedback and discuss it afterwards.

2. Agree Problem Statement

Present your draft problem statement and check that everyone is agreed it is properly worded and represents the purpose of the brainstorm. Reword if necessary.

Tour Step
Tour Step

3. Silent Idea Generation

Everyone starts to add their ideas to the whiteboard, using one sticky note per idea.

Try to avoid single words, but keep sentences short. Break sentences with the word 'and' into two or more notes.

Depending on how you prefer to work, team members can stick to using just one colour for their notes, or any colour.

Keep going until the ideas stop coming! You may decide to set a time limit to help focus minds - you can always shorten or lengthen it if you need to.

4. Cluster

Start by spreading all the stickies around randomly, so all ideas can be seen.

Then, in silence, everybody start to move related ideas into groups.

If it looks like a card belongs in two groups, duplicate it (you can do this with a CTRL-click).

Remember that anyone can (and should) add new thoughts as they occur.

When everyone is satisfied with the groups, move on to the next stage.

Tour Step
Tour Step

5. Define the Clusters

Starting with the easiest group, discuss the central theme and add a sticky note with a heading that captures the meaning of that cluster. The group headings should be specific and consistent.

If clusters need to combined or broken up, feel free to rearrange into new groupings.

If a satisfactory heading can't be found then park the discussion and move on to a different group until later.

Take care of any stragglers - these can be dropped, added to an existing cluster or given a heading by itself.

Complete

The results of the brainstorm (the headings) can be used for further investigation or development of a plan, depending on the nature of the brainstorm topic.

Thank everyone for taking part!

Click on the PDF link to download the results. You can tidy up the groups of stickies by arranging them in columns under each heading with a box around each cluster, if you wish.

Email the PDF to the team and invite comments and feedback on how to improve the process for next time.

Tour Step
HTML5 Logo This site makes extensive use of HTML5. Therefore GroupZap requires a compatible browser, which means a fairly recent version of Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome or Opera. Unfortunately, if you are using an old version of Microsoft Internet Explorer that doesn't yet support HTML5, you can either upgrade to a more modern browser or use Google's Chrome Frame (a plugin that provides HTML5 support). Please let us know of any problems you come across via email or the feedback tab!
feedback@groupzap.com