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No one looks forward to meetings. Most people feel that they are counter productive. My experience with meetings throughout my career most of the participants sit back and let the usual suspects dominate.

How can you use the time for meetings as a way to boost creativity with your team? Can you reset the culture where people will look forward to their time together?

Understand the cultural norms

Before you start changing things around. Consider the team norms. What is the explicit and implicit culture? Do they respect sharing new ideas and feedback? How does the team open up space for people to bring in new ideas?

Change the default behavior

The default behavior for meetings is to show up, sit down, open up your laptop, and tune out. If you plan an in-person meeting, make it clear to the participants that you need their attention and value their opinions.

Shorten the time. Calendar invites often automatically book one hour. Try to keep my meetings down to 30 minutes. Most of these meetings are for people to collaborate on small pieces of work. If it is more complex, then I ask for 45 minutes. It you require more time, then find ways to break up the work.

Creative meeting hacks

Find ways to break up the normal behavior around meetings. Offer a space to encourage creativity.

Remove the desks and chairs. It opens up the room to focus on a tangible artifact like a white board, post-its, printouts, etc.. Keep people away from laptops, emails, and Slack.

Experiment for creative meeting hacks

What is the expected intention for meetings? Do people expect a lecture or a debate? Observe people’s behaviors and find ways to shift roles from passive to active. Find ways to take advantage of the human interaction. Can you give people the opportunity to draw out their ideas instead of talking about them? Allow a little time for fun and exploration.

Change the location. Meeting rooms become the norm. The regular set ups will trigger people to go into their expected behaviors. Go somewhere off campus. Find locations that help stimulate people into a more creative mindset. We have used coffee shops, libraries, and parks to do this.

Meetings are opportunities for your team to come together and create. While the corporate world treats them as a necessary evil, they can be ways to lift people out of ruts with guided collaboration.

Read more on creativity here.

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Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.