Problems and Solutions for Keeping Your Meetings Creative

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Brain writingThere are many ways to have creative meetings and even more ways to inhibit creativity during meetings. In a creative meeting it’s all about getting the ideas out and to the next level.

Most of the time it is actually quantity over quality, says Leigh Thompson, the author of Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration, in her interview with Harvard Business Review.

Most people have been told, I mean ever since we were kids, that quality is what counts. I mean, when you do something, do it well. And of course, obviously, that makes sense,” says Thompson. However the problem is that when teams are given quality as a goal, their self-censoring gets activated. This tends to greatly reduce the number of ideas produced.

According to Thompson you are statistically more likely to find “the golden nugget” from a large variety of uncensored ideas rather than amongst just a few well formulated thoughts.

She explains that another creativity killer is that usually about 80% of talking in meetings is done by only a handful of participants. Thompson calls this the uneven communication problem. The reason behind this problem is that the verbally dominant people feel that they are talking because no one else is. In fact the quiet people have already given up a long time ago, as they feel they are not being listened to and hate being constantly interrupted.

Thompson presents a very tactical solution for the uneven communication problem called brain writing. The method offers an alternative to the old fashioned brainstorming method where loudness or the status of participants usually state the outcome of the session – not the actual ideas.

Brain writing is the simultaneous generation of written ideas by people in a group”, describes Thompson. The point is that everyone writes all their ideas on small index cards within a certain time limit. One idea is produced on a single card.

When the timer runs out, the ideas are pinned on a wall for the whole team’s consideration and put on a blind vote. In addition of extracting everyone’s ideas, the beauty of this method is that no one knows who is behind each one of the ideas. This way the status of individuals in the team play no role when making decisions. “It should really be a meritocracy of ideas,” Thompson says.

What do you think? Share your own tips and tricks for keeping those meetings creative.

Photo Credit: thisisbossi via Compfight cc

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