Unusual ways to spur creativity at meetings

As a manager, it’s your job to come up with great ideas for spurring creativity at meetings to get your team thinking. Then, it’s down to you to make sure the action points are followed through.

So, just how do you go about steering the focus away from the norm and doing something different at corporate meetings?

A good ice-breaker (and one that may surprise you) is to ask delegates to come up with the worst idea in the room. If you think this sounds counter-productive, think again! This is also a good session to launch if you’re mid-meeting and creativity has come to a standstill.

Winners medal

It’s a challenge for team members to come up with an appalling idea. You can even make it into a competition to see who thinks up the worst idea and award them some small prize for doing so. Crazy though it sounds, it will inject some fun and laughter into what may otherwise be a staid and stressful meeting.

After a short period of relaxing and sharing terrible ideas, quite often someone unexpectedly has a breakthrough and thinks up a really great idea. Even some of the off-the-wall bad ideas may be a springboard for a good suggestion if they are tweaked slightly.

Another way of spurring creativity is to make it a genuine team effort by taking part in an activity called, “Yes… and”. Each team member is asked to provide their own solution to a problem. However, no-one else is allowed to judge their solution negatively.

Instead, someone else must say, “Yes, I like this idea because…” and find something positive to say about their colleague’s suggestion. Then, they must add, “And we can also…” before coming up with their own solution. So the activity progresses round the table, fostering an atmosphere of positivity and creativity.

Gradually, the team members will loosen up and a long list of creative approaches will be compiled. Not all of them will be feasible, but some very creative solutions can be gathered this way. Choose the best ones and progress with the ideas.

Some managers swear by taking a team walk during a meeting, especially if it seems to be dragging and people are running out of ideas. Down tools and take a 15-minute walk as a group. Walk outside, weather permitting, even if it’s just round the grounds or even round the block.

Talk about life or whatever interests you. Relax and take a break from the high intensity of a meeting. Gradually, the conversation tends to turn back to work-related topics. There’s something about a gentle walk and nature that spurs our creative side. It makes us feel more healthy and alert, both physically and mentally.

Instead of a brainstorming session which is the usual way of throwing around ideas, break down each task into specific areas. Sometimes, brainstorming sessions can be too general. When participants don’t have specific goals or parameters, they may not come up with the most effective ideas.

After breaking down the matter in hand into specific areas, split the delegates into teams and have each team tackle their given task with a specific purpose. This provides a starting point and a direction, which can often produce better results. Then, all of the ideas from each team can be combined to provide a complete solution.

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