The Big PR Question: How do you generate new ideas when you work remotely?

26.05.20

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New ideas are the lifeblood of organisations. An idea is the start point of everything. But how do you spark creativity when everyone is working remotely? The creative energy of being together is now gone and we have to find new ways to find and shape ideas.

Please explain the question?

How do you encourage creativity remotely? It’s now very difficult for it to be a collaborative pursuit. How do you get the best results?

So how do you generate new ideas when you work remotely?

Set deadlines

Nothing focuses the mind like a good sharp deadline. A looming deadline is one of the most productivity inducing tools available. If you know that you have to be finished by a certain time – you get to work.

Trust in the process

At MediaHQ one of the most creative things we do is build PR Software that solves PR people’s problems. We have a very defined process that looks like this:

    • Decide on the theme of a piece of work – What do you want to achieve in a single sentence?
    • Have a one hour workshop. Invite everyone and set three specific questions (More below). Listen and get inspired.
    • Edit the answers from the workshop and find definite themes. This is like sifting for gold but the good news is that there usually isn’t too much rubbish.
    • We then share this work with a smaller group and ask them for sketches of what the next piece of software might look like for the user. Just a drawing – nothing fancy. Based on this process we decide on the Minimum Viable Product – MVP.
    • We then write a series of user stories. The software is based on this.

Plan random conversations

OK, I know this sounds like a contradiction. I believe that the best ideas still come when the scraps of two conversations meet. This can’t happen unless you’re having these conversations. You should schedule these chats and have a loose agenda. One thing to do is to have a list of things that you’d like to know more about and to pose these questions on the call. These questions act as a spark, or point of discovery and will lead you on a creative path.

Nurture creativity

It is essential to nurture creativity and to encourage your colleague to do the same. How do you do this? Here are some ideas:

 

    • Attend a webinar. There has never been so much quality creative content available. Pick one to go to and encourage others. You’ll learn.
    • Create a guest speaker night for your team. Pick a day to do it and give people a slot to present. Mix up the energy. Get some people to present on something that they are passionate about and get others to present on work related topics.
    • Set a creative challenge each week. Set a creative challenge each week and pair off people from different teams to work on it. It should be fun, collaborative and take 30 minutes. It will encourage chat and fun and will get results.
    • Bring in guest speakers. It’s so easy to arrange a guest speaker. There are very few unsurmountable details now and people have so much more time. Book a speaker for your team. It doesn’t have to be completely about work. It could be loosely related.  It will spark curiosity, questions and creativity.

Virtual workshops – ‘The Power Hour’

A virtual workshop runs in the exact same way as a workshop in person – only that the people are not in the room. Seems simple – right? The key to running a successful workshop is preparation. We run a one hour workshop I call “The Power Hour.’ It’s for no more than 10 people and it’s run in 60 minutes. Here are the rules:

    • Over the course of the hour you ask three questions. You reveal them one by one. They are all related to the problem they are being asked to solve.
      • The first one is usually a why question that is very simple in nature and gets people talking.
      • The second question is a what question about the why answers in the first question.
      • The third question is asking the participants to use the answers to question one and two to create something new.
    • Start on a big group call.
    • For each question create groups of two or three, get people to go off the main call and into smaller calls. People should work on a shared document. The moderator should be allowed to call into each group chat.
    • Rotate the groups for each question.
    • People then go back into the main group call at the end of each call and report their answers into a big collaborative document.
    • At the end you will have one big document that everyone worked on.