Raise your hand if you want your tribe (whether work or interest based) to think and act with more ingenuity during meetings. Look at that, every hand went up. I mean who doesn’t want that? So here are 2 ways to invite more ingenuity when you’re all together.

1.  Do something novel with the space of your meetings

Break the sameness syndrome around meetings by adding a bit of novelty to the space. These don’t have to be big shifts to be effective.

  • Change the location of a meeting.
  • Remove the chairs (one of my favorite).
  • Have a walking meeting.
  • Change up the seating configuration. For example, have people sit next to others who share the same birthday month or from oldest to youngest around a circle.

Why should you do something novel to the space?

When people are in novel spaces (and experiences), they are more likely to bust out of a predictable thinking. Our brains thrive and “fire” when we encounter something different, something new. With a little pre-planning, you can alter the space in a way that creates a fresh engagement.

2. Design novel activities at regularly scheduled meetings

If you have regularly scheduled meetings, do something different with the meeting itself. How many times I have wanted to poke my eyes out because of poorly constructed meetings. I’ve designed some snoozers myself. Usually poor design of recurring meetings is due to the fact that the organizer doesn’t imagine and plan the meeting before it occurs. Last weel’s agenda just gets rolled over. Cue snoring. If you want inventiveness to permeate a meeting, design an inventively-friendly meeting.

Here are a few ideas to “novel things up.” 

  • Identify one problem for the meeting. Break into smaller teams and have each one come up with a solution. Put a time limit on it. “You have 30 minutes to come up with a full solution.” Ask the teams to name their solution and to be ready to present it. 
  • Read a quote and discuss it for 20 minutes before you get into the meeting. Ask everyone to ingeniously include the quote in their comments during some part of the meeting. Keep a tally of who has used it. This increases healthy pressure and makes it fun.
  • Have a meeting where only certain people can speak to certain agenda items. Place duck tape (you know you want to do this anyway) over the mouths of those who can’t speak. This reveals more than you can imagine and invites the tribe to ingeniously compensate for the limitation.
  • Cancel the meeting. Life is short. Why not? If you’re the leader of a regularly schedule meeting, and the world won’t end if you don’t meet, cancel it. Not every time, but once in a while just walk in and cancel it. Before you send people on their way, ask them what they’ll do with their newfound time.

If you want more ingenious meetings, add novelty to the space and the activities.

What have you done to create novelty in a meeting that led to greater ingenuity?