We’ve all been in meetings where we’re looking for creative ideas and discussion, but for some reason it’s just not happening.
There are many blogs and books that talk about how to encourage creativity in a team. I’ve tried and tested various ideas, here’s some of the things that I’ve learnt.
Less awkward, more fun and fruitful. 7 ways to make creative meetings more productive:
1. Leave egos at the door
It’s natural for people to cling to their ideas, this can kill the vibe and make these discussions almost confrontational. Make it clear from the outset that it’s not about one idea ‘winning’, it’s about ideating, bouncing off each other and finding the best solution to the challenge.
2. Silent post-its
Particularly where there are strong characters in a group, others can struggle to put their ideas forward for fear of being knocked back. Asking everyone to jot down initial thoughts onto post-its in silence for a few minutes and pop them on the wall. Everyone’s voice is equal in this and it’s a great way to spark off discussion.
3. Share bad ideas
Start by sharing all of the terrible and unrealistic ideas you can think of. Don’t worry about budget, time or capacity. This can help set a tone for everyone to share their thoughts without judgement. It’s also amazing how often someone’s silly idea can spark off an avenue to a genuinely great idea. As Albert Einstein said, “If at first an idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”.
4. Pick your space
There’s a meeting room in our office that feel stifles creativity. There’s no natural light and it gets hot and stuffy. We tend to have much more productive creative meetings in our open, light meeting space at the centre of the office.
5. Change your environment
Sometimes it’s good to get out of the office, go somewhere that awakens the senses and takes you away from computers and the lure of email. Sit in a park with an ice-cream, go to a cafe, ask the friendly office next door if you can use their meeting room for a change of scene.
6. Invite others in
Talking to the same people about the same types of things (particularly if you work in-house) can leave you in a creative rut. Send a brief round to key individuals, teams or the whole company and invite them to join you. This new perspective is really refreshing and often enriches the outcomes.
7. “Related worlds”
Velcro was modelled on the burrs that got stuck all over engineer George de Mestral’s dog; the roll on deodorant was inspired by the ballpoint pen’s ability not to dry up and apply evenly. Try and look at your challenge from another perspective, who has solved a similar problem and how? Delve into solutions and see how they could be applied back to your own context.
I’m always on the lookout for ways to make creative planning meetings more fun and productive. What works for you?