How to generate creativity in meetings
I love creativity. There I’ve said it. We all have it in us. It’s fun and what we need to evolve and improve. So, in this post I’ll share small changes you can make to meeting invites and meeting structures to make them more creative.
Do you share my frustration when you’re at work and get an invite to a meeting with no agenda and a title that tells you nothing? To me, that doesn’t feel like a meeting where anyone wants my input. It sounds more like a meeting that’s hastily put together with no purpose. I assume I’ll turn up and it’ll be chaos. I also suspect I may well be told what to do and boy do I hate that.
Imagine you’re working in logistics for a delivery company. You’re getting ready to start creating “Live Route Finder”, an app that comes up with routes for delivery drivers in real time. It adapts the order that drivers do their deliveries depending on many factors including: traffic, fuel levels and how long the driver has been driving.
You get a meeting invite and the title is just “Live Route Finder” then you see that it has this agenda:
That’s a bit better, at least you know the project is still going ahead, but it’s still not exactly appealing. You’ll need a strong cup of coffee for that one.
So what do I prefer? Well, for a start, let me know the expected outcome of the meeting. If the “Live Route Finder” meeting invite comes with this purpose:
The purpose of this meeting is for us to agree on the first steps we can take to prototype the Live Route Finder app and get feedback from stakeholders so we can adapt if needed.
That’s better and gets me thinking a bit. Now imagine if I also get an agenda made up of questions that everyone at the meeting will answer:
Who do you think we should get feedback from to check that we’re going down the right path?
What kind of prototype do you think will get us useful feedback quickly?
How do you think we can work together to create this prototype effectively?
When you go to start work on this, what are you most worried about not being able to do?
How do you think we can reduce these worries?
Instantly I’m interested. I can’t help but think of answers to the questions both consciously and subconsciously.
So why do questions increase creativity? Historically human beings don’t like going into the unknown. In the unknown there may be danger. For me, Live Route Finder might be a daunting new project. I might be anxious not to let the side down.
Picture me being approached by my boss and told “tell me how you will choose and do the prototype”. Instantly I feel my creativity shutting down. I’d be likely only to mention things I had tried and tested before where I was sure there was minimum risk.
Creativity begins with a question, it opens doors to our imagination. Adding the words “do you think” to the questions makes the brain playful. It means that I don’t have to be right. I can share any ideas that spring to my mind.
So, there you go, just small things that I’ve found help make meetings creative, fun and effective. I’m interested to hear your experiences and I’d love to hear if any of you run experiments to try this out so please post here.
Of course, there are other aspects of meetings that are needed for creativity. I look forward to sharing these in future posts.
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