Are Your Team Meetings Sparking Innovative Ideas?

Julie Shenkman
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Brainstorming sessions and meetings are only as good as the ideas generated from them. That's why you need to have effective meetings as much as possible. Find out how to foster innovative ideas from your team meetings without relying on old, tried-and-true methods.

Have Goals in Mind

Before you call team meetings, have a particular goal in mind. Determine what you want to accomplish from your meetings. Are you trying to move the company out of a sales slump? Are you trying to reach hundreds, thousands or millions of new customers? Use your goals as the backdrop for planning these meetups. Be clear about why you're having the meeting and what you want to get out of it.

Call Spontaneous Team Meetings

Sometimes, innovative ideas happen at the spur of the moment. Think about having team meetings when things are stressful and there's tension within the company. People often come up with creative solutions under stressful and challenging situations. Rather than waiting to have a meeting at a later time, go ahead and have one right away at the spur of the moment, even when there's underlying tension.

Choose Attendees Wisely

Don't just rely on your company's most brilliant minds. Select a diverse group of people based on age, gender and even ethnicity. Have a good mix of employees at team meetings, from entry-level workers to upper-level management, to get as many opinions as possible. If you can't invite the entire company, consider a cap of 25 people.

Tell Employees What to Expect

Let your employees know ahead of time what to expect by being specific about the dilemma you want to address at the meeting. Tell everyone to come with an open mind and be prepared to offer solutions to whatever challenges your company's facing. Attendees don't need to prepare ahead of time, but tell them to get ready to think outside the box.

Designate the MC

The person running the meetings should be a respected member of your organization. The facilitator isn't there to generate ideas. The facilitator keeps everyone on task and on topic.

Lay Out One Ground Rule

Aside from rules of common courtesy, create one more rule for these brainstorming sessions. Tell the attendees that they cannot determine how something can't be done, but rather how it can be done. Work under this premise until the most promising idea comes forward.

Recognize One Simple Truth

At the end of each meeting, recognize the simple truth that innovation isn't easy. Even if you discussed some great ideas during your meetings, there's still hard work that must be done. You must be willing to take risks to be successful, regardless of the final outcome. You may have ideas that fail, but you may also have ideas that take your organization to the next level.

Team meetings can spark a wave of innovation in your company, which is why they're essential for success. What do you do to foster innovation within your team?

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