How are your 2021 projects going so far? If you’re anything like me not much has changed since 2020. We are still working from home, wearing masks, and trying to think of creative ways to overcome new challenges every day.
It doesn’t matter what industry or department you’re in. The events of the previous year have placed you and your business in a reactionary position. Kudos to you if you could foresee a global pandemic and strategize how to defend against it, but the majority of us were blindsided.
Now that we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the beginning of lockdowns, it’s time to begin the discussion on moving forward strategically, and that means managing projects in an alternative workspace.
All projects involve innovation. The beauty of modern project management techniques is that they are applicable in a variety of industries and departments.
Innovation is simply identifying and solving problems creatively. These problems can be customer experience, technological, or even a lack of creative spark since everyone has left the office. Let’s face it. Individual components can be worked on from home, but idea generation meetings run better when everyone is in the same room.
Asking the right questions is important. What are your points of stress? Where is the user experience lacking? Where is too much money being spent? What is consuming the majority of staff time? These are all questions that can help you identify which issues you need to resolve, and then the problem is primed to be solved.
The point is that innovation is not as difficult as it may seem. The first step is identifying a problem.
There are a ton of different brainstorming exercises that you and your team can walk through together with a few simple modifications to uncover problems and find solutions.
Here is a list of some brainstorming and decision exercises that we find most helpful. These will be outlined in more detail in a future article.
Creative brainstorming sessions just work better in groups where you can draw on the whiteboard, stick note cards to the wall, and say all kinds of crazy things in rapid succession without waiting for video conferencing lag to catch up.
For most of us, that is not an option right now.
So how do you run a brainstorming session without 4 walls and a marker board? You do your best.
While it’s more difficult to stick notes to a virtual whiteboard, this can be utilized for quick thinking exercises and drawing diagrams if you’re willing to invest in technology beyond clicking and dragging your mouse or trackpad.
Another option is to use a OneNote notebook over a screen sharing session (perhaps in Microsoft Teams.)
Whatever your preferred whiteboard alternative is, this is the hardest part.
Otherwise, virtual creative meetings run similarly to their physical counterparts. Make sure that everyone on your team is properly equipped with sticky notes and markers. You can use your phone to run a timer, or better yet show one on the screen. Any sense of normalcy is really going to help your team.
When time is up for your chosen brainstorming exercise, have your team members share their results individually, and write them down either in a document or a virtual notebook, then use a polling app or feature to have your team vote on the priority of these project ideas.
It is possible to still be creative, collaborative, and even productive without being physically in the same space. A collaborative approach to problem-solving can yield great results that wouldn’t be thought of simply by listing out the issues and trying to solve them alone.
Don’t let the pandemic slow down the growth of your business. Just treat it the same way that you do any other problem. Identify the issues as a group then ideate a workable solution to solve them that is effective and efficient for everyone involved.