Meetings can be one of the best ways to work collaboratively to help grow your business and work ON your business, if you structure them correctly, involve the right people and ask the right questions. As Lisa referred to in this month’s letter, the best way to advance your business is in the dining room, looking toward the future, and not necessarily dwelling on the past.
Another way to look at working ON your business is through critical thinking sessions or brainstorming meetings. According to the website, www.barefootbrainstorming.com, there are several ways to make your next strategic planning session productive and move your business forward.
- Have an agenda. Have a list of goals that you want to accomplish during the set time of the meeting. The agenda shouldn’t be too specific, but the end results should answer the questions of who will be responsible for achieving the assigned duties or tasks.
- Value time. Make sure you have a start time and end time and keep track of time throughout the meeting. Time is a valuable asset, and if the participants know the meeting will start and end on time, with plenty of short breaks to check email and return calls, they will be more focused during the actual meeting time.
- Put away the PowerPoint. Nothing is more boring than seeing a screen of numbers and charts flash before the attendees’ eyes, only for a brief amount of time. And, the focus is drawn away from what is being discussed and rather diverted onto copying the numbers onto a notebook. Instead, print out notes, provide colorful pens, markers and colored pencils for notetaking, as the colors are soothing, and help promote creative thinking.
- Play. Some of the most productive meetings will include small toys or gadgets to engage all five of the senses because according to one blog site, “when we engage both our left and right hands simultaneously, we use 80% of our brain power!” The blog recommends the following for each of the senses:
• Sight – colorful toys, pictures, and crayons.
• Smell – Play-Doh, and Mr. Sketch scented markers.
• Touch – tactile toys (slinkies, legos, pipe cleaners, and Play-Doh).
• Sound – music.• Taste – candy bags including chocolate, caramels and gummy bears.
- Encourage participant engagement. Invite people from various teams or departments to the meeting for a fresh perspective, but let your expectations be known. Everyone should participate. And, every idea has some merit, even ones that seem a little far-fetched, can be responded to like this, “yes, and then…” building on an idea to get a different, but positive outcome in the future.
- Assign a recorder for all ideas. Every idea has some good merit, and it is important to keep those ideas flowing. Assign one or two people to write the ides on a big poster so everyone can see them, and when it is time to start critiquing ideas, start with positive feedback first.
Meetings can be productive, and they can be a way to start planning for growth in the future. Critical thinking is a tool that allows various perspectives to be shared, while hearing fresh ideas from different team members. Pull up a chair, make room for creativity and start planning the steps to grow your business.