Encouraging innovation in meetings

Posted on 2017/08/29


Innovation is the lifeblood of any business – it is the intangible value that acts as a differentiator – the intrinsic value contributed by employees. Organisations recognise this and over the years there have been many attempts to encourage innovation, such as table tennis in break out areas, and brightly coloured meeting rooms. However renovations needn’t be done to the office to encourage innovation in meetings. These are our top tips:

1.    Quick fire

One of the things that stands in the way of innovation is fear of saying something ‘stupid’ - so a lot of people are plagued by ‘analysis paralysis’ where they are considering if they should share an idea. Often they spend so long considering if they should speak up that not only does that prevent them considering other ideas, but very often they decide not to share what they originally came up with. One way to get over this is for the meeting facilitator to run a quick fire session where ideas are shouted out round table without pause between each speaker.

2.  Ideas in a hat

Putting ideas into a hat is an excellent way to avoid the personal embarrassment of sharing in front of the team. A step on from that which is really powerful and supports the team is to ask each team member to draw a piece of paper at random and then explain the idea to the rest of the group and even go as far as to add additional aspects to the idea where appropriate.

3. Ask the impossible

I have been in a lot of meetings where suggestions are shot down for being impossible within the parameters of the business. That may well be the case, but this serves to discourage individuals from coming up with ideas, and they are always working within the confines of what they know is possible now. A good way to overcome this is to ask the participants to come up with impossible ideas. This will likely be humourous, which will only break down barriers and encourage more creativity.

4. Ideas board

Put a whiteboard up in meeting rooms and have employees during meetings write ideas up on the whiteboard. The bigger the board the better, and encourage people to build upon ideas of others into a giant web of ideas.

5. Take a trip

A meeting does not need to be in a meeting room – and in fact being in a different environment can do wonders for the creative process. It may be simply getting outside to a park, or perhaps taking the team for a lunch or dinner.

6. Use an interactive poll

An interactive poll can be used in a number of ways to aid innovation and often to bring down any initial barriers to communication. A great time to use it is at the beginning of a meeting to introduce a number of different concepts to discuss and get the meeting participants to pick where they want to start. Or perhaps to vote which idea already presented should be expanded upon further.

In Summary

A meeting is typically a very defined concept, which is in direct contradiction to innovation which should be fluid. That is not to say that innovation can’t be synonymous with meetings if one or more of the tips we have suggested above are utilised.