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.


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.


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


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

Sol Santos-Pyne Chief Innovator and Prototype Evaluator. He is always ready to help design, paint, cut and install. Sol will show you what’s possible and will also try the impossible. He is the bravest monkey of all.

Ayla Larzabal Zavitz Artist-in-Residence and Director of the Safety Patrol. She makes sure that everyone is following the rules and having fun at the same time. She is the time-keeper and turn-taking monitor. She helps paint the wood for the monkey bars and will give you great advice on the best accessories.

Beto Santos-Pyne Video Producer and Editor as well as a Reliable Helper during heavy installations. When he is not building intricate systems in Minecraft he is the top ranking swinger on the monkey bars. 

Mateo Larzabal Zavitz is our Media Relations Expert and Installation Helper. Mateo knows what’s cool and what’s not cool. He helps us maintain a realistic outlook on the world and stay up to date on the latest movies and video games.

Matias Larzabal Designer and Lead Installer. Matias has more than 20 years of experience working in construction, 14 years of experience as a dad, 11 years of experience as an uncle, 10 years as a helpful Canadian neighbour and handy-man, and a lifetime of experience as a monkey. Matias is also an artist with a unique upbringing. You can learn more about him and his art on his gallery.

Ginny Santos Monkey Supervisor, Visionary and Managing Director. Ginny is a nutrition coach and entrepreneur who is always looking for ways of involving children in creative thinking and problem solving. You can learn more about Ginny’s other work on NeOle Coaching.