Paul Sloane explains how to get the most out of your innovation meetings.
Holding brainstorming sessions is a great way to get your staff sharing ideas about how to drive the business forward, but there is a right way and a wrong way to run this kind of meeting.
It is very important to separate the two phases of the meeting. The first part of the meeting is Idea generation when you use divergent thinking. The second part is Idea selection when you use convergent thinking. Here are my top tips for a meeting that will produce great ideas.
Before the meeting
- Choose a diverse group. Six to ten people is ideal. If at all possible bring in some provocative outsiders to challenge the conventional thinking in your team.
- Appoint a facilitator. Ideally the facilitator should be external to the group. They can use different techniques to manage the process. The manager is often a poor choice for this role as they cannot stop themselves shaping the content.
- Meet offsite. Getting away from the office somehow helps to break conventional thinking. Unusual locations are good. I have run ideation meetings in a zoo, a museum, an art gallery and a castle.