By: Emily Finlay
A team that communicates easily and often is typically one that can get a lot done. Empowering collaboration, particularly for remote or hybrid teams, should thus be one of your top priorities as a manager and/or team leader.
Microsoft Teams emerged from the pandemic as one of the top choices for team collaboration. Its user base grew from approximately 20 million in November 2019 to 145 million in April 2021.
As companies worked to overcome the work challenges created by COVID-19, Microsoft Teams offered a virtual solution to help keep employees connected and productive, even when working from home.
Along with providing easy-to-use communication options, including video, chat, audio calls, and shared mailboxes, Microsoft Teams integrates with many of the business tools that organizations use on a daily basis.
Employees can access Office 365 tools and documents, open files in shared storage spaces, and integrate with many other applications tools, all without leaving the platform.
With all these benefits, it’s easy to see why Microsoft Teams is a popular collaboration tool. In this article, we’ll explore how you can use Microsoft Teams to encourage creativity and get more out of team brainstorming sessions.
In addition, we’ll highlight how MindManager® for Microsoft Teams empowers business users with the features they need to manage tasks better and tackle projects.
4 ways to encourage more productive brainstorming in Microsoft Teams
Brainstorming is an idea-generating technique commonly used by teams within organizations of all types and sizes. Brainstorming sessions give multiple stakeholders the chance to offer feedback and suggestions on an idea, concept, or decision, helping ensure that everyone can share any important insights they have.
But when you have numerous people providing ideas at the same time, you may miss (or misunderstand) what someone says. You may also struggle to capture these ideas accurately for future reference.
If this happens, your meeting minutes or brainstorming notes won’t be a good reflection of the discussion. This can erode the progress made during the brainstorming session, which can slow productivity.
Luckily, Microsoft Teams offers multiple ways to improve virtual brainstorming. In each of the scenarios below, we highlight how you can use this platform to keep your idea-generating sessions organized and successful.
1. General brainstorming sessions
The communication tools that Microsoft Teams provides are some of its most useful features. You can hold a video or audio conference directly through the platform, bringing everyone into the same virtual space.
Even better, the entire team can view a shared window during your meetings. This space can be used like a whiteboard, where you type out ideas and feedback as the session progresses. To add more structure to brainstorm sessions, you can create diagrams through MindManager and easily integrate it with Microsoft Teams with MindManager for Microsoft Teams.
Once you open the application, simply choose the diagram that works best for that session, such as a mind map, an idea map, and/or a knowledge map. These maps can each be displayed within the shared window in Microsoft Teams so they’re visible to all participants.
Each visual map in MindManager uses a combination of shapes and lines to capture ideas and show how they connect to, or branch off from, one another. The main topic generally starts as a large shape in the center of the diagram.
As people offer ideas, you can easily add a new shape for each one, and use lines to branch off from these suggestions to further expand upon ideas.
When you’re running a Microsoft Teams brainstorming session with MindManager, you can also link to any relevant material stored in the tool. If you need to talk with a client about a certain idea that’s raised, for example, you can add a link to an upcoming meeting that you have scheduled with them.
You can also use your brainstorming map to identify next steps. After you’ve settled on a course of action, you can easily build out the next actions needed within your map and tag specific Microsoft Teams users to assign them a task.
In this way, your diagram can be transformed quickly from a collection of ideas into an actionable plan that all team members can reference. This enables employees to immediately get started on their tasks and use the steps you’ve defined within the meeting map to complete deliverables more efficiently.
2. Project-specific brainstorming sessions
Your entire team won’t be involved in every part of the projects you work on. When you’re working on a specific deliverable or stage of a project, you can use Microsoft Teams to create specific groups.
These groups can have dedicated channels, a library in which to store files, and even a shared mailbox. This additional layer of organization helps simplify meetings around topics that relate to specific projects, ensuring that only those who need to be in the meeting are present in order to keep things streamlined and on track.
For example, you can hold a brainstorming session with project leaders, using this time to understand and resolve any high-level issues.
During this meeting, you can use MindManager to develop a plan of action based on this discussion, and easily add links to documents, web pages, and other resources to provide proper context and background information. That way you can determine the right course of action.
When you have a plan ready, you can then hold a brainstorming session with any employees who will be involved in some of the finer details of executing this plan.
You can display the map you created with your project leaders to help everyone understand the overall plan and requirements before diving into the deliverables, steps, and tasks needed to complete the project.
Since all MindManager maps are easily shareable, team members can reference them at any time so they know exactly what they need to do to accomplish their task(s).
3. Problem-solving brainstorming sessions
The ability to save project plans and brainstorm maps is a key benefit of using MindManager as a Microsoft Teams brainstorming tool. If something goes wrong during a project, speed becomes critical.
To resolve the issue, simply locate the map you created during your original brainstorming conversation. You can review the ideas to see if they’re still applicable at this point in the project, and discuss them further if they have potential.
If you need to come up with a new plan, you can reference the original ideas and use them as inspiration in order to find the right solution.
Once you’ve nailed down what needs to be done, you can attach any new, relevant information within the original brainstorm map and tag employees within Microsoft Teams who are responsible for certain tasks in order to quickly resolve the issue.
You can also download the full diagram or share it via a browser link with team members or even clients to present the solution you’ve decided upon.
4. Project post-mortem brainstorming sessions
Projects often involve a lot of moving parts, so it’s only natural for some things to go smoothly and others to hit snags along the way.
Once you complete a project, you can use Microsoft Teams to bring your team together and hold a project post-mortem to discuss how everything went.
In this brainstorm session, you can have each team member share what elements of the project went smoothly and what areas led to challenges. You can use MindManager for Microsoft Teams to visualize these ideas, bucketing those that may be similar or caused by the same issue.
You can also ask team members for feedback on potential new ways of approaching areas of a project that didn’t go well so you can test them out next time.
Mapping out areas of both success and failure during a project post-mortem can help you design improved workflows that can be used to run future projects more effectively.
Use MindManager for better Microsoft Teams brainstorming
In each of the brainstorming session examples above, MindManager for Microsoft Teams can be used to produce better results by:
- Encouraging greater feedback and collaboration among employees.
- Identifying high-level next actions and/or decisions.
- Identifying and resolving issues that arise.
- Conducting project post-mortems to discuss project successes and failures so you can refine workflows that lead to better future results.
MindManager’s unique visual maps give you the ability to view and capture ideas as they unfold in real time while allowing you to link to any external information you need to efficiently pivot from brainstorming to execution.