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Team Creativity At Work I and II: Creative Problem Solving At Its Best
Edward Glassman : Beef Up Creativity in Regular Meetings

Beef Up Creativity in Regular Meetings

(Turn Them Upside Down)

By Edward Glassman, PhD

A TRUE STORY: An R&D manager of a large Fortune-500 company told me that he asks his team members to spend 10 to 15 minutes of every meeting quietly writing ideas to solve an important problem on 3x5 index cards, one idea per card so he can sort the ideas he gets. He says it provides him with valuable ideas and it keeps applied creative thinking techniques in everyone's mind...

Creative thinking during meetings counts. Use advanced creativity techniques (see my recent book) during regular meetings of your team. Form small, 3-4 person creativity groups at least once in every meeting so everyone looks forward to solving problems in meetings.

In addition, ask people to reverse the problem statement "How to stimulate creative thinking during our meetings" and non-evaluatively list ideas on "How to spoil creative thinking during our meetings." This list often reflects what you all usually do in meetings. Then dereverse each spoiler and write "How to" in front of each idea and creatively smooth out each sentence into a sensible "How-to" problem statement.

For example, you could dereverse the creativity spoiler, "Have domineering people present" into "How to stay creative with domineering people present" or into "How to keep domineering people out."

Reverse another creativity spoiler, "Hold meetings at 4:45 on Friday" into "How to stay creative in a meeting held at 4:45 on Friday" or "How to avoid calling a meeting at this time."

You will soon have many problem statements focusing on specific needs of your work group. Form groups of three or four people and non-evaluatively list solutions to the problem statements that impact you all the most during your meetings. Or ask individuals to write ideas on index cards, one idea per card, so you can sort the ideas you get. You all know best what spoils creative thinking during your meetings.

Creativity Spoilers in Meetings

The following summarizes what some experts say spoils creative thinking during meetings.

  • Members judge ideas prematurely and use quick negative criticism.
  • Minimal sharing of ideas occurs.
  • Highly vocal people dominate.
  • Experts or high-ranking superiors overwhelm.
  • People lack training in advanced creative thinking techniques.
  • Leaders don't tell people that they want creative outcomes.
  • People do not stay interested and involved.
  • People focus on achieving the mission, not on new ideas.
  • People conceal emotions and inhibit spontaneity and humor.
  • People use win-lose methods, such as majority rules.
  • People select ideas prematurely, the quick fix.
  • People do not solve problems in structured ways.
  • People don't know the goals and purposes.
  • People use analytical and logical thinking too much.
  • The leader encourages ideas most similar to his or her own preconceived notions through verbal and nonverbal feedback.

Increase Creative Thinking During Meetings

Help creative thinking flourish during meetings:

  • Use advanced problem-solving creative thinking techniques to:
    • Define problems creatively.
    • Generate ideas abundantly.
    • Select and combine ideas innovatively.
    • Generate trigger-proposals imaginatively.
    • Develop workable solutions logically.
    • Select proposals systematically.
  • Postpone evaluation and defer judgment of new ideas.
  • Establish a quota for many really different ideas before selection.
  • When hearing new ideas, state what you like about an idea first and pretend the idea comes from your boss.
  • Use effective team interaction techniques, such as:
    • Make decisions by consensus.
    • Record on flip charts so all can see.
    • Allow leadership roles to distribute naturally.
    • Circulate the agenda before and action plans afterwards.
    • Rotate the chair among members of the team.
    • Discuss and review work group interactions frequently;
    • Review and discuss what spoils creative thinking and productivity.
    • Implement self directed team building (see my recent book). •

© 2010 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »