Talents - May 2016

How can we limit the number of meetings and make them more effective? Some thoughts on brainstorming.

The situation: Any given manager spends 24 days a year in meetings and on average attends 3 meetings each week, 78% of which are over an hour long.

Of these managers, 42% say that their meetings are inefficient in some way, although they also indicate that 62% of their most important decisions are made in meetings (versus 22% during conference calls and 20% by email).

So what's not working with these meetings? 

  • 19% say it's a problem with allocating speaking time,
  •  17% say it’s self-criticism,
  •  16% say it's their shyness,
  •  And 12% say they do not feel that the topic for the meeting is relevant to them.

View the full results from the 2016 Wisembly survey.

So we can see that meetings are in fact necessary but they need to be productive!

Some groundrules

  •  Don't hold a meeting if there is another possible option (memo, email or phone call).
  •  Plan the meeting several days ahead of time and inform participants of the topic and the points you will go over. Telling them the purpose of the meeting also helps.
  •  Ask the participants to think about the topic of the meeting and send you their questions so that you can be more efficient and organised during the meeting.

Some helpful hints

  •  Start meetings on time 
  •  Send out a summary 48-72 hours after the meeting so that everyone can implement the decisions
  •  Avoid holding meetings at the end of the day on Friday
  •  Choose less conventional formats for smaller groups to encourage discussion and shake things up a bit.
  •  Don't try to solve every issue that comes up. Instead, choose individuals to take the lead on making improvements or reviewing the issue...for the next meeting!

 Infographic (text in English): efficient meetings

 How is this different from meetings?

A brainstorming session is a qualitative study and creativity technique used to generate ideas, brands and concepts. This is a group meeting where everyone can pitch ideas and make suggestions. 
A piece on 30 games to wake your brain up: THINKERTOYS from Michael Michalko. Here is a short list of 6 tips to unleash your full creative potential.

  • Be knowledgeable, but know when to leave that knowledge behind
  • Make unexpected connections between things
  • Come up with lots of ideas even if most of them are unusable
  • See things from different perspectives
  • Learn how to fail
  • Be persistent but not stubborn

Leading brainstorming sessions

First and foremost, there are rules about how to behave: build on people's ideas, come up with several ideas, think freely and do not criticise. Your aim should be: to think outside the box, create a positive atmosphere and promote creativity.

  •  Introduce the issue, answer questions from participants about the problem,
  •  Avoid criticising, interpreting, commenting on or censuring ideas so that everyone feels free to contribute ideas,
  •  Write all the ideas in a place where everyone can see them (on a flip-board, whiteboard or projector)
  •  Discourage competitiveness and encourage people to listen to others,
  •  Make people feel comfortable
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