The current exceptional global situation has influenced our daily work and brought project management into digital context. Hence, we wish to present our project ideation process for remote work.
Our digital innovation process moves systematically from problem or phenomenon identification to a concrete project idea.
- Identify the problem or phenomenon
The process starts with identifying the needed change and on whom that change has an impact in the future (project target group). This usually requires some iterative pondering of thoughts. You can utilize Sitra’s megatrend cards, dialogue cards by Helena Aarnio or you can coach yourself with the following questions: What social phenomenon interests you? What would you like to change in this world? What is your dream? What needs changing? What are the development needs in your organization? Describe the phenomenon and target group’s problem on one slide.
- Empathize with the target group & define the problem
After identifying, you need to make sure the identified problem is actually something that your target group needs. Therefore, you should interview and observe your potential target group. You can conduct a group interview in Teams or Zoom and record the session to be able to analyze it later on. Interviews are more interactive than surveys and give you the opportunity to dig deeper with your target group’s insights. You can track down the deepest emotions and genuine reasons by using the 5 x why method. With the insights from the target group, you will be able to define the actual problem in one sentence.
- Ideate solutions
With the clarified problem, you can move on to ideating solutions. You can ideate by brainstorming with post-its. There are plenty of free tools to help you with that, for example Miro, FunRetro, Padlet and Flinga. Try to come up with as many ideas as possible. When you are done with creating post-its, you can group and categorize them based on themes or similarities. Choose 3-5 radical ideas in your chosen digital tool and share them with your target group to collect feedback from them. Vote and prioritize together which one is the most interesting by using the like functions.
- Prototype & test the solution
Structure your project idea to a concrete prototype. You can create your prototype in the format of a goals-actions-results table or project canvas with almost any digital tool. Try for example Google Jamboard or Docs. Test your prototype by sharing it and asking feedback from your colleagues with Slido or Mentimeter. You can also organize a virtual meeting in Zoom or Teams to your potential target group and collect feedback with the chat function.
- Summarize the project idea
Write your project idea in essay (A4) format by answering these five questions (1 paragraph / question): What does your project change? Why is the change important? How to implement the project and how does it increase the competences of stakeholders? Who can conduct the change? Whom will the project impact? You can utilize Google docs or infograph templates in Canva.com to visualize and share it.
We wish you inspiring moments with remote project ideation! Please share your best practices and ideas by commenting.
Suvi Starck and Anu Sipilä work in Haaga-Helia Research, Development and Innovation Services. They developed recently a virtual project management training course for staff to support continuous learning of RDI competences.