Collecting inputs and insights from stakeholders is a challenge we have to resolve in product management.
Because it’s all these unique points of view that make a great product. We can’t afford to work in siloes simply because the alternative is difficult.
So what’s the solution? In this article, we’ll look at the ways that idea-sharing can go south in (distributed) teams, then we’ll share our own ideas for best practice, including our very own idea-collecting tool, Forms.
Let’s dive in.
Collecting and sharing ideas can be a messy experience, even in the most organized teams. Here are the most common pitfalls product managers fall into:
Using multiple channels, online and offline, for collecting ideas. You know the type of chaos: one stakeholder pings you via Slack, others email, and some scribble their thoughts on Post-It notes before slapping them on the side of your desk, never to be acknowledged again.
Not having one unified place to store all the ideas. What do you do with all those ideas that have been sent your way? When they come from all angles, it’s tempting to leave them scattered to the four winds. But if you do, you can bet good money that the best ideas get lost.
Allowing some people’s voices to be heard more than others. Do all stakeholders feel confident to put their ideas forward? Does your way of collecting ideas democratize their points of view? These are important points to consider to gain full value from the collaboration.
True, your daily Standup is a good opportunity for stakeholders to speak up. You can also use creative articulation exercises, like ‘What Went Well’, to encourage feedback from the team.
And yet, you still risk disparate, scatty idea collection — as well as the ‘loudest voice in the room’ taking over. What you really need when it comes to collecting ideas from teams and stakeholders is a structured way of asking for their input.
To loop back to the pitfalls we summarized above, not having structure can whittle down peoples’ willingness to share their ideas. When they’re confused about how or where to participate, feel that participating is time-consuming or that their contributions won’t be acknowledged even if they do, then the number of team members or stakeholders putting their ideas forward is likely to decline.
Keeping the key three S’s in mind — simple, straightforward, and structured! — is our recommended method instead. Try it for yourself and get ready for a steady stream of ideas, even from the quietest team members or stakeholders.
The first rule of clear idea collection: keep it all in one place.
Cohesiveness is crucial to empower your team and stakeholders. Instead of fretting about when, where, and how they can submit their ideas, using one easy-to-use tool means that less time is spent thinking about the logistics of idea-sharing… and more time generating ideas to share!
Let your team know which tool to use (and how they can access it) upfront, offering any additional training or onboarding help as required.
Accessibility is the name of the game, especially in 2022. If you have fully-distributed team members and stakeholders around the globe (or, on a smaller scale, some that work from home either occasionally or weekly) then using a tool that everyone can access is your next non-negotiable.
On top of this, your tool checklist should include:
Intuitiveness: Can the tool’s workflow be explained in two sentences or less?
User-friendliness: Can the least tech-savvy stakeholder understand how to access and use the platform?
Security: Is it secure enough for your collaboration needs?
General usability: Does it encompass the features you need for collecting and organizing ideas? Does it capture information in a way that fits into your existing ways of operating, like prioritization frameworks?
Forms has been designed to collect information from team members and stakeholders through customizable forms, all at the click of a button.
Gather feedback, supporting info, and/or ideas for your product development to make collaboration a breeze. The airfocus Forms app makes this possible by adding a new button to your workspace’s channel of choice (such as a “Give Feedback” option) to capture the information you need, when you need it.
Simply activate Forms in the “Apps” section of your workplace, choose where submissions will be sent, enable who can access the form, and that’s it! Easy access-gathering will be at your fingertips in under five minutes, with further customization of the form available too.
We love using Forms because it:
Opens your feedback process to a wider entire team of stakeholders
Collects a steady stream of ideas for your product development roadmap
Creates a transparent and standardized protocol for collaboration
Gathers ideas from all departments in your organization without the risk of disrupting existing workflows
Gives the option of anonymity for those who may be uncomfortable sharing their ideas and, in turn, creates a more authentic idea-sharing experience.
Having been trusted by thousands of product teams of all sizes and from all industries, it’s our mission to equip you (yes, you!) with the tools you need for success. If idea-sharing has been the hiccup in your process even once, then the airfocus Forms app is the tool for you.
Ready to knock your team collaboration out of the proverbial park? airfocus is here to make every round of idea-sharing a homerun.