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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Brainstorming: We did it differently

I am working on designing our next generation service delivery platform that will help us enhance our capability and add dozens of new features on fly. Wow! That sounds interesting, and to begin with I organized a series of brainstorming sessions. In all we had 7 sessions that were conducted over a period of 12 days. Each day, we picked a module (sub-system) and discussed it thoroughly. Our discussion of these modules covered purpose served (with inputs, outputs & interaction with other modules), pain points, existing process, limitations, customer dreams, sales team wishes, delivery team hurdles and management desires.

It was important for us to have quality time in brainstorming sessions and get the best out of people from various responsibilities, and this is how we decided to go;

  1. We will have brainstorming sessions in first half of the day, preferably start within 30 minutes after reaching office. Advantages – participants are fresh with no backlogs in back of their mind.
  2. There will be at least one day gap between two sessions to allow participants some time to think and perform better in next session. Also, this helped us in ensuring that brainstorming session don’t get monotonous.
  3. We ensured that we don’t go for an over-kill. Brainstorming sessions were limited to a max of three hour with first check-point after 90 minutes and then subsequent checks at regular interval of 30-40 minutes – or as when arrived at logical closure on any topic.
  4. We recorded all session (audio) and also took notes during running session. Idea was to ensure free flow of thoughts without missing out noting any key point. This worked very well as everyone could playback the session for better understanding and feature reference. We recorded session in multiple files ensuring non-crossing 35 minutes mark – this is helping us in tracking back specific discussion.
  5. Following brainstorming session, in shoe of product manager, my responsibility was to come out with requirement specs specific that module and submit requirement docs for review to other stake holders.

So far this is running great, I will be back here soon with more learning.

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