Tips for Online Stakeholder Engagement

Recently, Andrew Huffer, of Andrew Huffer Associates, shared three fast tips for online stakeholder engagement.

He has over 25 years of experience in working with organizations, businesses, managers, and communities at a state, national and international level.

Andrew is a Facilitation, Community Engagement & Team Development Specialist, who can help you and your team members be 100% clear on ‘What’s Next’.

Andrew designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of states, national and international conferences. We’re pleased that GroupMap scored a mention in Andrew’s blog post as an “online engagement tool for people to provide their input individually in real-time during an online stakeholder engagement process.” Thanks, Andrew for the shoutout.

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Andrew’s top three tips

Andrew has been doing plenty of online stakeholder engagement and has learned a few valuable things that he shared in his blog post, titled “Three fast tips for online stakeholder engagement.”

Tip 1: Keep participants above the line

Andrew commented in his post that engagement should be all about “encouraging them to give ideas that are future-focused; thinking about where the opportunities are in relation to the issue and what’s possible.” He calls this keeping them above the line so that their comments and thinking remain constructive, relevant to the future and solutions based.

GroupMap Collaboration Tool in Action

Tip 2: Equity in input

We love this tip from Andrew because this is what we aim to provide with GroupMap: ” people…the chance for that more intimate conversation where they get the chance to be heard. This occurs at all levels from equal speaking time, to equal air time for ideas and include a diverse range of voices.

Tip 3: Have workshop templates ready to go

Another awesome tip is to get all your templates ready for the online engagement workshop that you are running so that “… you to get the data from the workshop ….. and get it out to your participants as quickly as possible.”

Of course, this is something that can you easily do via GroupMap’s readily available or custom templates along with a reporting functionality that allows you to download all workshop discussions, voting, and comments at a click of a button!

GroupMap templates

To read Andrew’s full online stakeholder engagement tips head to this blog post.

GroupMap Open Space Virtual Methodology

groupmap open space live session

Introducing TFK Consulting  

Thomas Krecker of TK Consulting

TFK Consulting is a group coaching and changing advisers based in Hamburg, Germany, who provide their service via virtual workshops, digital facilitations and face-to-face meetings or events. 

Thomas Krecker is the Principal Consultant who has had extensive experience as an events manager and conference organizer. Thomas believes in the power of technology to help deliver a more sustainable, accessible and engaging event. 

He has been working with digital tools for team building since 1995, using them for online and offline facilitating. 

Thomas also co-creates and co-facilitate online workshops for consultants across various industries and disciplines, who want to continue with their existing service offerings and methodology without going too deep into the online world. 

“Good coaching is not reserved for companies and executives. Much of the technology used today in business… can, of course, be used for all human issues, regardless of the environment in which we are located.” 

Challenges with offline Open Space 

Having run many conferences, events and conducting coaching sessions for businesses and companies around the world, Thomas saw the increased importance of new methodologies.

The challenge Thomas saw when conducting traditional conferences face-to-face are:

    • They can be dysfunctional. Studies, including that by University of Utrecht (Stroebe, 2010) show that brainstorming in groups is less effective than thinking for yourself. Continued interruption, group dynamics, hierarchy, extroverted vs less extroverted leaders were some of the main reasons found that can block free thinking!
    • They can be inaccessible. Face to face events are expensive to run and have a time resource effect as well. This can influence attendees’ ability to attend and participate.
    • They can be admin heavy. Most of the breakout and workshop sessions still use flipcharts, pinboards and needles to capture feedback. This often needed to be typed up, transcribed, and translated – a heavy time investment.
    • They do not meet the demands of modern agile Teams

“In 2014, we wanted to program our own solution for better meetings. Since then I have been permanently screening the market for a solution.”

As a solution they combined the Open Space meeting methodology with the advantages of digital facilitation using GroupMap, tablets and beamer instead of pinboards and flipchart, creating instant anonymity, silent work and inspiration, exactly as the participants needed.

GroupMap Open Work Space on tablets

Open Space – often called Barcamp or a non-conference – is participant driven and less organizer-convener-driven. Participants would decide about the conference agenda themselves and are also free to join or leave every conference session, depending on what interests them most.

The next challenge was, to bring this format into the online world.

This process was driven by the conviction that the so-called “new normal” in workshops and team development will need to be a mixture of online and offline meetings. The latter was to be run based on a needs capacity, and as appropriate to the teams’ priorities, such as sustainability, time and money considerations. 

GroupMap Open Space as a solution 

“It turned out that transferring an Open Space into online using GroupMap was much easier than expected.”  

GroupMap Open Work Space Information Booth

Thomas and his team synchronized individual Zoom meetings with GroupMap by pinning the meeting address on the related map.  Each map was then turned into online “rooms” each with a descriptive image that made it feel like you were physically somewhere!

GroupMap Open Space by TK Consulting

For example, the “Foyer” was used not only as the first point of welcome or entrance to the “GroupMap Open Space” but also a teaser practice for writing on a map. Meanwhile the bar and the information counter became easy points for participants to return, get help or just chat outside the other sessions. 

GroupMap Open Work Space Foyer      GroupMap Open Work Space Bar

Being able to enter the rooms without a host’s permission lets you stroll through and join the sessions as you would like – similar to if it was a face to face event. 

“The experience and the idea of room matters a lot to the human brain. It gives orientation, security and inspiration. It adds “a feel” to the screen.” 

Virtual Open Space is a hit! 

According to Thomas, the “GroupMap Open Space” style is one of the most successful formats he has run.

“One of the major advantages of is the simplicity and the Pinboard look and feel. Especially in online workshops, where same participants are still stressed and get sidetracked by technical issues, the simplicity cannot be overrated.” 

GroupMap Open Work Space Activity

Through GroupMap Open Space conference can be successfully run through combining the use of features such as:

    • The ability to create your own maps – GroupMap’s self customized template options allowed Thomas to transform many existing methodologies – such as many of the liberating structures, root cause analysis, ZRM (picture based resource evaluation), Ishikawa and many more – into the GroupMap templates. 
    • Rating functionality – the ability to rate in different dimensions for brainstorming sessions help to define and weigh each idea in the brainstorming session. 
    • Automatic reporting the ability to have all the information from every session downloadable, without having to transcribe and type up – is a time and resource saving. 
    • Create new maps and workspaces instantlythe ability to create new maps, add new workspaces and sessions while participants are working in other maps allowed for a very agile and responsive way of delivering conferences. 

Session Board Example

GroupMap build teams and encourages brainstorming 

“GroupMap is the core of team building and brainstorming for our customers, like Google or Microsoft is the core for the standard processes.”  

Thomas indicated that the feedback on “GroupMap Open Space” has been predominantly very good, with most participants being impressed by the speed and the platform’s ability to create a real “group feeling” online. 

“The best feedback I heard was from a group of 35 consultants who ended up using a GroupMap Open Space as a substitute for a personal meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They had doubts that a virtual open space would work. In the end, they came out with better and more results than in any physical meeting before.” 

Want to try GroupMap for your next online meeting? 

Schedule a demo with a GroupMap team member at a day and time that suits you best or have a go of our easy to use, supported online collaboration tool for FREE for 14 days today. 

Online Brainstorming Helps Little Diversified Architectural Consulting Sustain a Strong Culture Across Countries

little-online-brainstorm-culture-facilitator
Nikki Clinton and Rich Glenny of Little

Brainstorming Culture a win at Little  

Little Diversified Architectural Consulting (Little) is an international architecture and design firm, with five offices located across the US cities of Charlotte, Newport Beach, Orlando, Durham and Washington DC. 

Little is recognized for developing exceptional design solutions that generate business results in the workplace, the community and the healthcare and retail industries. 

They achieve this by providing results that go beyond the extra mile through combining expertise in architecture, engineering, interior architecture and additional, complimenting services such as land development, branded graphics and more.

Nikki Clinton and Rich Glenny are the facilitators at Little. One of their main focuses is to ensure that Little maintains a culture of brainstorming across all their office locations. 

“If you ask people at Little what keeps us excited about coming to work each day, you’ll hear repeatedly that it’s the people and the culture…Our culture is open, informal and collaborative and fun – all reflected in recognition of Little as a “#1 Best Place to work” on multiple occasions.” 

 

Online Brainstorming Solution to overcome tyranny of distance  

A successful collaborative and brainstorming culture has always been typically associated with a face to face, direct engagement between team members. 

Little’s greatest challenge was connecting large groups and people from its five different locations  whenever a large, firm-wide issue needed to be addressed.

In such a situation, brainstorming was limited to a small number of participants in a single location that excluded large numbers of employees.

Little’s other challenge was finding the right digital solution – amongst many that’s available – which needed to be user friendly and intuitive, so that everyone can feel like they can jump in and contribute, whether or not they had a lot of experience with technology.  

 

Brainstorming & collaborative cultures maintained through online innovations 

After much research and considering the options available, Little opted for a group collaborative mind mapping that allowed people to watch and add ideas in real time. 

Their focus was on the content rather than having too many features that would confuse and distract. Their goal was to have no more than a few minutes of training to familiarize participants with the purpose and process.

online brainstorm result
Little’s result from an online brainstorming session with teams across 5 offices

 

“There are a lot of online options that facilitate virtual brainstorm culture, but we did not find any that are as user friendly as GroupMap,” Nikki and Rich observed. 

“GroupMap’s ability to connect people from various locations and watch ideas being added to the mind map in real-time was what convinced us that GroupMap was the best option.”

“Ease of use, especially for first-time users, was also important as it allowed participants to join in with only a few minutes of training.”

Supported by other remote team, online collaboration and communications channels such as Slack and MS Teams, the Little team can now bring people from each office to build an overall sense of community.

 

Five offices contribute to never-ending online brainstorming

According to Nikki and Rich, GroupMap gave Little the opportunity to do something they could not do before – to have employees from all five offices online brainstorming together simultaneously with the ability to see everyone’s ideas. 

“Before GroupMap that was not an option. GroupMap also allowed us to keep our creative momentum going since we can always return to a brainstorm to add new ideas. The brainstorm, in effect, never really ends,” they said. 

little-virtual-brainstorm-results-with-groupmap
Little Response to using GroupMap

The Little team creatively used GroupMap to sustain and even enhance their brainstorming culture:

  • They ran an online ‘pre-brainstorm’ brainstorm using 2 or 3 team members to better “frame” the problem and what they wanted others in the team to do.

  • They also added a warm-up activity that gave new users a chance to trial and experiment in a safe way with the technology and to get comfortable with the format.

  • They added the “like” (thumbs up and thumbs down) and dot voting features to all of the virtual brainstorming process to help filter out where support from the team was the strongest, so that top ideas can be taken forward.

  • They mainly (95% of the time) used MindMap for brainstorming as it allowed participants to see snippets of information at a quick glance – almost like laying out index cards on a table – while still containing them in an organized structure.

    The team found that the Mind Map template was great for a lot of tasks beyond brainstorming. GroupMap was also used to storyboard presentations, take notes, and organize research.

  • They used the Surveys to get feedback in GroupMap right after the online brainstorming before participants moved on to their next task. With the feedback from the surveys, Little’s facilitators were able to constantly integrate and improve their process after each session.


Discover and lead new innovations for competitive edge 

Nikki and Rich shared some key results they see for their team’s culture – beyond maintaining an online brainstorming  – through the use of GroupMap:

  • Opportunity for all to contribute comfortably:

    “Because GroupMap is a more democratic method, the quieter, shy members enjoyed contributing just as freely as anyone else… We now have a way for everyone to come together and share ideas, from the CEO to the new hire….”
  • Connect remote teams better:

    “Other feedback we received was that using GroupMap helped employees forge new connections between offices. Fellow virtual brainstormers, who previously were separated by a long distance, could share ideas and get to know one another.”
  • Upvoted by many Little team members:

    An overwhelming majority of participants really enjoyed using GroupMap and have continued to be repeat users.”

But possibly, one of the important results for Little is an opportunity to discover, generate and lead with new ideas and innovation, providing them with a continued competitive edge, in an increasingly competitive market.

“And while the democratic nature of the participation provides for a great experience, giving everyone equal access also means that we have a better chance, as a company, of finding new breakthrough ideas that will help our clients achieve their goals.” 

 

Want to try GroupMap for FREE? 

Schedule a demo with a GroupMap team member at a day and time that suits you best or have a go of our easy to use, supported online collaboration tool for FREE for 14 days today.