The digital revolution has made many a work institution obsolete. What ever happened to memos? Or pigeon holes? Yet there is one workplace staple that has remained utterly immovable in spite of technology – the meeting.
Despite the fact that approximately 95% of meeting agendas could be just as easily (and more effectively) handled via email, humans are inherently social beings, and we all need a little face time every now and then to keep us on track and in check.
And there’s nothing wrong with a good, solid meeting from time to time, provided it’s used wisely. After all, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve given up 5 hours of your day to achieve not much at all.
Ultimately, effective meetings are ones with innovative and creative outcomes, where teams collaborate to make ideas stronger and solve business problems. Unfortunately, creativity isn’t something that just happens when you put a bunch of people into a room and give them 2 hours to solve a problem.
Not all of us are naturally creative, and even fewer of us are brave enough to field outlandish ideas before a firing line of smart-mouthed colleagues, which is why meetings often end up characterised by awkward silences rather than trailblazing ideas.
So how do you ensure that your meetings end up actually bettering your business? Here are 4 tips to help you add a creative spark to proceedings:
Just because an idea isn’t the perfect solve for the problem at hand doesn’t mean it’s not a great one. Simply dismissing creative suggestions can be very discouraging for employees, so why not encourage them by keeping an ideas board, which is regularly updated with contributions from the team? Perhaps they’ll come in handy at a later stage, perhaps not, but by acknowledging all contributions, you’ll create a more open, receptive environment, in which team members feel able to partake.
SHARE THE SPOTLIGHT
By allowing different members of your team to facilitate and lead each meeting, you’ll eliminate complacency and ensure each and every get together has a slightly different flavour. By giving each team member a chance to shine, you’ll also inspire them to impress with better ideas, and thus up their investment in meeting outcomes.
ACKNOWLEDGE AND EMBRACE FAILURE
For any business to be truly innovative, it’s important to establish a culture in which calculated risk is not only accepted, but encouraged. Consequently, failure shouldn’t be a taboo topic in your meetings – in fact, you can derive a lot of value by discussing individual shortcoming, and asking team members to offer their thoughts on how they might have handled the same situation differently. This type of frank discussion will undoubtedly be frightening at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll not only better collaboration within your ranks, but also reduce the fear of making big moves.
CHANGE OF SCENERY
If you insist on holding meetings in the same space time and again, don’t be surprised if the ideas generated start taking on a distinctly stale quality. Our environment plays an enormous role in influencing the way we think and process information, so don’t be afraid to step outside the boardroom from time to time. By staging get-togethers in coffee shops, parks or even on the beach, you’ll keep your employees interested and their ideas fresh.