Idea Makers: Series of virtual ideation sessions

Client Company and Main Contact:
Marlene Cohen, Founder/Idea Makers, an ideation and marketing strategy agency

About the Event:

Annually over the past few years, Idea Makers has facilitated a series of in-person ideation sessions for one of their key clients, a multi-national food and beverage manufacturing company. The ideation sessions were key to the company’s Innovation pipeline program. The company was very happy with the tools and processes Marlene had used in previous ideation sessions and was more than satisfied with the outcomes.

Challenge:

Two weeks before the first session, all in-person meetings were cancelled due to COVID-19;  the company’s team members were now working from home. The company approached Marlene for virtual alternatives that would move this important project forward as planned. They specified that the virtual solution must maintain participant engagement and creative thinking, and not be too taxing on the at-home schedules of participants. 

The first ideation session was scheduled for the first week of April 2020 and an estimated 30 people would participate from their homes.  Marlene reached out to NeOlé.

Solution:

Our approach was to mirror the format and activities of the successful in-person workshops as much as possible. The NeOlé team met with Marlene via Zoom to review her activities deck and understand the outcomes. We recommended a flexible, digital collaboration platform called Stormz. Zoom and Stormz together allowed Marlene and her co-facilitators to use the same format as their in-person sessions: ice-breaker, inspiration, diverging, idea sharing, and converging.

“Amazing! Success...we rocked it! Thanks, Marlene for orchestrating it so amazingly!”

Participant feedback

Results:

Marlene’s client was impressed with the turnaround and thrilled with the first virtual ideation workshop. The company felt that the virtual ideation session delivered the same quantity and quality of ideas, time efficiencies, and real-time idea sharing and building. In particular, they felt that the virtual session allowed more freedom for participants to express ideas versus in-person. 

The company decided to move forward with Marlene facilitating the seven remaining workshops virtually over the spring and summer of 2020. And, because participants in virtual workshops can join from anywhere, they saw the potential for partnering with counterparts in other parts of the country and beyond in the future.

Key Stats:

As of September 2020,

8 virtual ideation sessions (each workshop was 2 half-days)
240 participants
2,884 product ideas generated