In a recent Q&A email, one member of the Innovation Leader network asked the following question about running innovative meetings:

“[Is] there any…content/statistics around smart meetings and techniques that companies are employing in the brainstorming process to encourage innovation; for example, Lean Coffee and Unconferences?”

Below are two of the best responses — and we invite you to post your answer in the comments below.

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Plan Activities to Encourage Better Brainstorming

“We regularly brought together innovation leaders from multiple countries. Typically in the late afternoon, we split them in small groups and gave them a specific business challenge and a ‘city tour’ walking assignment, with several locations they needed to visit. They had to discuss the business challenge, while being inspired by multiple…stimuli [on the tour]. We then had a debrief over cocktails or dinner.” 

Submitted by a respondent in the health care industry. 

Focus on Getting ‘Unstuck’

“I’ve often found that the problem is just getting ‘unstuck:’ pulling out what’s already in the team’s heads, organizing it, making sense of it, and then forcing decision-making.

One of the most efficient ways I’ve found to do that is with one hour, sticky notes, dot voting, and an efficiency grid. Start with a broad problem/opportunity, and have the team come up with the problems they see related to it. The team votes on…[one problem] to focus [on], which the facilitator turns into a ‘how might we.’ The team then comes up with a bunch of potential solutions to the ‘how might we,’ using the quantity over quality maxim. Using voting dots again, the team ranks the solutions, and then, graphs the highest ranked ones into a 2x2 efficiency grid: low vs high impact on one axis, and low vs high challenge on the other. Snagging the ones that are high-impact and low-challenge, the team can get to work!

There are many similar approaches I use (including ones involving sketching), but they all follow a similar pattern, by bringing structure to chaos: Impose a system of rules (most importantly, with time) that act as rails on which to coast; extract information quickly and cheaply; evaluate information relative to each other; pick a course of action; identify a way to validate it; and get it done!”

Submitted by a respondent in professional services.