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4 Ways to Enhance Creativity in Meetings

Creativity Table

 

 

Creativity can’t be forced. You can force yourself out of bed or into work work but creativity is a fickle thing to capture. The best one can do is to create the optimal conditions to induce an idea. Individually, some people think best while walking or doodling. Collaboratively, there are some interesting best practices to leverage. Here are some techniques to increase creativity in meetings.

 

Letting an Idea Breathe

Personally, I have trouble holding back on shooting down others ideas. Just a few months ago, I was part of a small group developing a low budget marketing campaign. We spent several hours just throwing ideas on a white board. The inner pessimist is dying to immediately point out a flaw in a plan. The number of times a bad idea was improved into something viable and valuable was non trivial. Collectively, a team can save and enhance ideas by instituting a policy to take a moment before responding to an idea Make sure the team is on board to let an idea breathe before commenting and you will find the ideas flourish

 

Restricting the Facts, Freeing the Mind

 

Woman white board

 

 

Starting with a blank page and a blinking cursor will sometimes lead to inaction. Having a large amount of options and possibilities can be overwhelming. Research indicates that people are more creative with limitations and structure rather than infinite possibility. Famously, Dr. Seuss bet he could write ‘Green Eggs & Ham’ in less than 50 words. Starting with the facts of the problem and a time constraint is a good start. Adding additional restrictions could be useful to further compel a team to be resourceful with the information they have. In creative meetings, set a clear agenda and have a hard stop time that ensures that the team can leverage the forcing function of a hard stop.

 

Setting the Mood

 

Yoga Office

 

 

Setting the tone for the meeting at the beginning is a powerful way to enable creativity. This tactic could be something simple like having music on during the meeting to put people at ease or a physical activity like yoga. Meditation, for example, has been linked to reducing cognitive rigidity, ven 20 minutes can be helpful. Large companies like Apple, Google and Nike have all incorporated meditation for these reasons. Yoga is a similar mindful practice as meditation and can have similar effects. A quick improv session can also be helpful. Improv forces people to come up with unplanned answers on the spot which will get their creative juices flowing.
Naturally, there are time constraints to consider with some of these pre-meeting activities. Also, one has to consider whether some of these ideas resonate with the brand of the company. Some cultures have less tolerance for spending meaningful time meditating. But, having even a small respite (moment of silence) right before a meeting can be hugely beneficial. Especially since knowledge workers have multiple meetings throughout a day and are managing a large workload, . Providing even a small recharge during the day can help with productivity during the meeting.

 

Six Different Hats

 

better hat image

 

In 2009, Speedo needed to develop a new swimsuit after their last model was banned. They used a system called ‘Six Different Hats’ to help the brainstorming process. Six different hats is a very structured methodology developed by renowned psychologist, Edward De Bono. The core concept is that people have six main ways of thinking. Each type of thinking is given a color: managing – blue, information – white, emotional – red, discernment – black, optimistic – yellow and creative – green. As a team, everyone can ‘wear the same hat’ simultaneously and be on the same plane conceptually. This exercise can force people to think differently than their natural approach. Another value of introducing this system is invoking more introspection and self monitoring. Team members are likely more aware of when their contributions are negative, emotional or factually helpful if there is a system in place.

Regardless of what methodology or combination of methodologies used, taking the time to be thoughtful about ways to increase creativity in meetings is an incredibly valuable use of time as a meeting maker.