Innovate to Survive: Eight Obstacles, Eight Solutions (Part 3)
4. Meetings, the Death of Innovation
Meetings don’t have to be the death of innovation. But they often are.
Solution: Understand that innovation in meetings is not just a process, it is an attitude and an environment you can establish. Borrow from the techniques of innovation training and ideation facilitation, beginning by turning the group into a team. Here are a few simple suggestions borrowed from the process of innovative facilitation.
Turn the meeting into a team exercise
- Credit suggestions, and allow each individual to build on another participant’s comment. Giving credit to the person who initially suggested the idea is polite.
- Break into small work sessions. Just having someone holding the pen writing on a flip chart while leading a few team members to look for solutions builds the teamwork and improves the quality of output.
Keep it positive; criticisms are like an innovation hemorrhage
- Ensure that every suggestion is accepted and respected without evaluation, criticism or judgment. Make this a formal rule of the meeting. At the end, ideas can be examined and dealt with – not during the meeting. Keeping on a positive track will also increase quantity and quality of output.
- applause works. The first time you applaud you may feel a bit silly. Not the next time or the next.
Get started early
- Give out an agenda before the meeting, and assign specific tasks. For Innovation Sessions, provide a “homework” assignment, deliberately using this familiar and non-threatening term.
- When participants have completed a homework assignment, they understand the purpose and have started their thinking. Meetings are more productive. Output from participants will be at a higher level. Cooperation will be stimulated by sharing the homework results.
5. Toys, yes, toys! Sterility is the death of innovation.
Toys are a critical element of an innovation session. Play helps participants think better, more creatively.
Fill the meeting room (and your office) with toys, gadgets, hand puzzles, play-doh, Lego, pipe cleaners, colored paper. These inform the participants that the process and expectations are different from an traditional meeting. It relaxes the atmosphere. It provides implicit permission to try new things and be creative. It also focuses attention on the tasks at hand. Fun enhances innovation. Your outcome will be more ideas, more better ideas, some of which will soar.
Date: February 24, 2010