Meetings are a necessary evil in the workplace. Necessary, for the collaboration between people and the cohesiveness needed to maintain strong teams. Evil, for the time wasted on poor planning and disengaged employees. At ScreenBeam, we take meeting management very seriously and believe that running an effective and efficient meeting is the key to unleashing creative results.
Agendas Provide Purpose
In this article from Forbes, the author postulates that ‘structure enables creativity.’ Allotting the proper amount of time for a meeting is of great importance for creativity’s sake. If too little time is scheduled, then the meeting’s goals will not be met. On the other side of the coin, if too much time is scheduled, it can easily be wasted on tangents and debates. The most effective way to set the correct amount of time for a meeting is to develop an agenda outlining the meeting goals so everyone understands the meeting’s purpose, and estimating the amount of time needed for discussion on each point. Ensuring all attendees are on board by providing them with the agenda and resources beforehand so they come to the meeting prepared, is of equal importance.
Shake up the meeting space by having standing meetings. Research has shown that standing meetings may improve group productivity. They keep the meeting focused and on topic, and best of all they are short. As organization management consultant Dan Markovitz suggests, the stand-up format can lead to meeting more often (15 minute daily meetings vs a single two-hour meeting), with significant results: issues can potentially be both identified and resolved quicker. You can also mix things up by finding non-traditional areas to meet. Corporate common areas, a local coffee shop or other public spaces are more relaxed and inviting environments, opening the door to creativity.
Create an Inclusive Environment
No matter when and where you are meeting, everyone should feel comfortable enough to share their ideas openly. Attendees require a safe environment to express themselves and share their talents and insights. Whether the meeting is for the C-Suite only or multiple levels of employees, the fear of failure and judgment by peers or superiors is real, at any level. As the organizer, you can kick the meeting off by acknowledging each attendee’s strengths and the value that they bring to the meeting. This introduction will give everyone a sense of who they are and that their input is required to achieve the goal of the meeting. You should explicitly state that:
- The attendees in the meeting are part of a task team to achieve the goal outlined on the agenda
- Everyone and every idea is welcome
- In this conference room, at this moment, they are all at the same level – just teammates trying to get to a goal
- Only positive comments are welcome to move the discussion forward
Setting the rules of the “game” at the beginning of the meeting reinforces the structure needed to spark creativity. When attendees are given the parameters in which to work, they can focus more time on creating a solution rather than on the process to get to the solution.
The “Yes, and,” Technique
Businesses are adopting this improvisation technique to spark creativity within their organizations. The idea behind “yes, and,” is that when a team agrees with a colleague’s idea by saying “yes” to it, they are validating and supporting the intent and effort of the colleague’s idea. The “and” part of the equation gives everyone on the team the opportunity to build upon the original idea. Not only is this an effective brainstorming technique, it also fosters open communication and strengthens trust within the team.
Creating a structured, interactive and inclusive environment and using the “yes, and,” technique ensures attendees feel comfortable to contribute which snowballs simple ideas into solutions.
If you have any other suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.
Dan Kabic is a web developer at Actiontec