Working from home or from anywhere is here to stay. This means that online design thinking and innovation will grow spectacularly. As the authors of the new book “Online Innovation”, we would like to help you and your colleagues and clients to become great online design thinkers and innovators fast.

We made all the beginner mistakes ourselves. We copied methodologies one-on-one from offline to online with eight-hour workshops a day, which was utterly boring. We experimented with online tools, which in those days, could not handle 25 people brain dumping their ideas simultaneously on the digital collaboration board. We had a steep learning curve. As we saw others struggle too, making the common mistakes we did, we decided to write a practical book called ONLINE INNOVATION. And we are sharing with you below a checklist with 100 tips to be great online design thinkers and innovators.

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10 General Online Tips

  1. Start with the Individuals – remember they are people.
  2. Invite external stakeholders to your design thinking innovation sessions.
  3. Use frequent energisers and breaks to let people move from their laptops.
  4. Timebox, Timebox, Timebox, especially online where time travels faster..
  5. Show it on your online whiteboard, don’t tell only.
  6. Have fun and use music for relaxing moments or during breaks.
  7. Surprise with beautiful settings and online whiteboard designs.
  8. Keep it simple, simpler than you think.
  9. Rehearse, especially if you’re using a new tool or if you’re co-working with a new tech facilitator.
  10. If you face a problem – whether in the process or with the tools – take a break; participants will understand.
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20 Online-Netiquette Tips

  1. Read the agenda and the instructions beforehand and come to the meeting as participant prepared.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the tools you’re going to be using as participant.
  3. Call in from a quiet, well-lit location.
  4. Arrive on time, if not a little early, so you can iron out any audio/visual equipment issues before starting.
  5. Test your online audio so you can be heard just after logging in.
  6. Use a headset or earphones when possible to minimize echo and background noise.
  7. Set your microphone to mute when not speaking.
  8. Shut down other devices taking up bandwidth, if possible, to help ensure a stable connection.
  9. Turn webcams on whenever possible – it’s nice to see your face! Though bear in mind that in low-bandwidth environments turning off the camera can help with call quality!
  10. Keep the video chat open to interact with people.
  11. If you participate in the office with your colleagues, be sure that each of you is connected with its PC .
  12. Use nonverbal means to indicate when you would like to speak, for example raising your hand in your video conferencing software or using built-in hand-up features.
  13. Respect break time to the minute.
  14. Be engaged. Listen to whoever is speaking, communicate in the chat channels, and use the online collaboration tools.
  15. Close extra tabs unless necessary and remove distractions, like email notifications.
  16. When speaking, do so slowly and clearly. Practice brevity whenever possible.
  17. During presentations or longer discussions, try to add questions or thoughts to the chat channel and avoid interrupting.
  18. Please wait for the facilitator to give you the floor; online, it only takes two people overlapping to create confusion.
  19. Read what’s in the chat, so as to not repeat questions.
  20. Giving feedback, nod and real thumbs up are signs that you are listening!


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10 Online Innovation Tools Tips

  1. Combine a video conferencing tool for communication and an online whiteboard tool for working together.
  2. Schedule an onboarding session before your actual workshop to check if everyone has access to and understands the tools.
  3. Check for new features, updates and free versions of the tools you use.
  4. Master the tools; do make sure to educate yourself properly before facilitating a workshop
  5. Collaborate with a tech-savvy person as tech-facilitator.
  6. Try not to get stuck on a distinct creative tool.
  7. Be ready to change your tools if you see that people are too frustrated to use them, for example give the opportunity to write in the chat.
  8. Use tools where participants can move around autonomously, for example Spacial Chat or set up breakout rooms where they can network and share freely.
  9. Interact with people with engagement tools like Mentimeter.
  10. Give time for people to get used to new tools, asking for small asynchronous tasks.
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10 Online Innovation Techniques Tips

  1. When you have large groups, set a specific break out room to manage all the technical issues to avoid participants monopolising the session with their problems.
  2. Prepare break out rooms in advance if you need to put people together with a specific criteria.
  3. Make people time aware, when you ask to present or to deliver in a certain time put a visible clock on the online whiteboard or in the video.
  4. Be firmly flexible: strict with your schedule and ready to change the plans, if technical issues happen.
  5. Use all the senses you can; share nice food together, the drink you like most, the smell of a candle. If you can, send real stuff to people and use them together.
  6. Be inclusive creating dedicated work spaces on the digital whiteboards, with names and photos of people which are co-creating.
  7. Plan the right time to give clear instructions and answer questions on how to carry out a task.
  8. Scale tasks down to allow less expert contributors to make tiny steps and feel comfortable with the process.
  9. Scale up people’s online skills: send tool links and other resources upfront and ask to prepare.
  10. Use reaction-tools frequently to feel the group mood.

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15 Tips on Online Innovation methods

  1. Because there’s no in-person connection among the online team, use structured and rigorous methods to keep pace and monitor your results.
  2. Don’t use in-person innovation methods without tailoring and adapting them to the online setting.
  3. Don’t use a method just because of the method itself. Match the purpose of your initiative and your organisation’s characteristics with the superpower and benefits of the online methods present.
  4. Use the Problem Framing method before any innovation process to determine whether a problem is relevant or not for the organisation and the market.
  5. Love the problem: spend time understanding, framing and reframing your problem.
  6. Use the Online Customer Experience Deck to help a group identify a customer segment they want to focus on.
  7. Use the Lightning Decision Jam if you want to solve a problem in 60 minutes or if you need to educate a group on how online innovation can be done effectively.
  8. Take advantage of quickly connecting relevant stakeholders on your innovation process with no travel costs and less scheduling complications.
  9. Don’t get lost in opinions, trust only ‘Your Own Data’ (YODA): fresh, relevant, trustworthy and significant data collected by yourself.
  10. Pretotype it, build a simple artifact or technique to collect YODA very quickly and inexpensively.
  11. Search feedback from your market as soon as possible with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
  12. Use the online techniques to get feedback from many users and customers about their frictions.
  13. If you’re innovating an organisation be sure to have the top management sponsorship.Online it can be easier to make them participate at the beginning and during important steps of the innovation process because it’s more efficient.
  14.  Use different online settings to maintain the creative power of an innovation method: synchronous moments to align people, engage, take decision, co-create and asynchronous moments to have feedback from the market, make researches, improve outputs.
  15. Trust the online power of the structured processes of all methods worked out in the book ‘Online Innovation’.
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35 Tips For Online Facilitators

  1. Don’t facilitate AND participate.
  2. Choose a way of working that best suits you online.
  3. Stay genuine and be yourself.
  4. Give the opposite energy to the group.
  5. Give a time box. Make sure everybody knows the time limit for an assignment.
  6. Always explain what you are going to do and why.
  7. Have tactics to manage strong personalities.
  8. Have everyone use the same colour of online post-its on your boards so that it does not stand out whose idea it is and it will not influence the choices.
  9. If you ask someone to work on something, ensure you let them display it online.
  10. Check with the project leader how everyone is divided into online teams.
  11. Control the online design thinking and innovation process; don’t try to control each individual. Respect everyone’s own space.
  12. Remind the group of the agreement to be respectful towards one another.
  13. Give credit where appropriate; stimulate, motivate and enthuse the group publicly.
  14. Let the group do the work. Not you.
  15. Keep the momentum otherwise it becomes too long-winded and the group will get bored.
  16. Always stay one step ahead of the group so you can apply the next technique immediately.
  17. Ask the group for help if you are not sure how to continue.
  18.  Always treat everyone with respect, but also tell them when you do not approve of something.
  19. Pay attention to the body language of the participants on screen.
  20. Regularly check what the groups are working on so that, if necessary, you can guide them.
  21. Have confidence in the quality of the group and allow them to work independently.
  22. Intervene only when absolutely necessary.
  23. Give the project leader and the client a ‘wild card’ during the selection process of best opportunities, ideas, concepts or business cases.
  24. If a group can’t make a decision, use voting as an instrument to avoid extensive discussions.
  25. When you explain something about a tool or a technique which is on the online collaboration tool (e.g. Miro), share your screen and show what you are doing.
  26. Be clear about the objectives of a breakout session (what is the ‘deliverable’?).
  27. Have always under your sight the participants’ list to manage the group and give the introverts and silent people also online attention.
  28. Online turn-taking: call one participant at the time to avoid overlapping.
  29. Moderate the discussion more firmly to create a safe online working environment for everyone.
  30. Ensure you reduce unnecessary discussions – Use the online note and vote formats.
  31. Read the online room – take natural breaks spontaneously when energy is low.
  32. Enjoy your online facilitation yourself, as it will lead to more relaxed participants too.
  33. Train yourself regularly learning new online tools which pop up everyday and are creating more inspiring creative online working spaces.
  34. Practice, Practice, Practice.
  35. Check out the new book ‘Online Innovation’ here:

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