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Practical Tips for Facilitating Idea Generation Meetings

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Guest Post by Michael Dugan, Author of Saving Innovation

Before holding any idea generation meetings, communicate to your team the need for the meeting (example: soaring energy costs) and what you are going to ask of them (ideas on how reduce it).  The positive impact this has on the upcoming session will be twofold: engagement and preparation.

By presenting a compelling need for the meeting you are making clear its necessity.  Most employees are asked to go to enough meetings already; they want to understand the importance of attending this one.  Also, by soliciting ideas from your people about important business issues, you are demonstrating to them that you value their opinions and believe they have the ideas necessary to solve the problem.  This show of respect will be rewarded with a fuller engagement on the employees’ part.

Additionally, by tipping off your employees to the basic subject of the meeting, you will be mentally priming the pump of their brains so they arrive to the session with ideas, ready to contribute.  Too often employees are caught flat-footed by the problem(s) managers ask them to solve in meetings because they had no time to gather their thoughts on the subject prior.  Time is wasted as their brains attempt to find traction on the issue.  Remember, when we ask our brain a question, it never stops working on the solution.  It works harder some times than others, but it’s always working.  We can tap that awesome power by triggering employees’ minds to the questions they’ll be asked before actually asking them.  Avoid springing questions on your people in meetings and allow them additional time to work on their solutions by informing them beforehand about what you’re after.

A tremendous pet peeve of mine is showing up for a meeting and finding everyone turning to each other asking, “What are we here for?”  You’d never call a meeting with your lawyer or accountant without informing them off to the subject, why should employees be treated differently?  People’s time is precious and you want to maximize the time your group has together.

The teams that I’ve seen have the most success with generating more ideas are continually better prepared than other groups and that preparation allows them to start solving problems the minute meetings begin.

For more idea generation and innovation tips and strategies from Michael Dugan, visit his blog.

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On February 22, 2012
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