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A Virtual Brainstorm

When was the last time you walked out of a meeting and said, "Wow. That was a great meeting!" Mine happened to be a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t walk out of the meeting. Instead I closed down a virtual world application called Second Life.

A couple of weeks ago, Erica Driver, from ThinkBalm hosted a brainstorm session for members from the ThinkBalm Innovation Community. The topic was submitted by me. The question – How to get newbies started using virtual worlds. After the meeting I remember feeling like I just attended a meeting of the future. Here are a couple of the key ingredients that I believe made the meeting a success:

1- Diversity. People from a variety of organizations (mostly Fortune 500 IT companies) were in attendance. Each individual served in different functions…HR, IT, Marketing, Virtual World consultants, etc. Their unique experiences helped round out the discussion.

2- Participation. There were 12 people in attendance and each person contributed. How often have you been to a webinar, without knowing anyone, and had everyone participate and share their insights?

3- Tools. We used the following tools during and after the meeting.

a) Second Life was the tool we used to meet and discuss the topic. Those who use Second Life for business purposes will typically say that it gives attendees a sense of "presence." I think it does this and much more.
b) Jeff Lowe created the brainstorm tool that we all used to record and organize the discussion (see picture above). We started with a single ball representing the topic. As people shared their thoughts, we pinned them to the ball. Related thoughts were pinned to those thoughts, etc. The process was interactive and collaborative.
c) At the completion of the discussion, we used a tool to evaluate the meeting and generated real time feedback through a graph that appeared in the virtual meeting room (I wish I had a picture of the graph…perhaps next time).
d) After the meeting, I received the brainstorm map with all of the ideas and suggestions that were provided during the meeting.

I am intrigued by the possibilities of meeting with customers in a virtual world to explore and solve real business problems, to simulate the true customer experience, and to overcome the barrier of having a presence.

Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connection on 11/10/2008.

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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