Stop meeting and start collaborating!

We have all been there. A meeting arrives in your calendar. It has a good title “New thinking for 2019” and a good attendee list (mix of seniority, mix of departments, generally the hotshots in the company). And you think, YES! this time, we are going to get some sh*t done!!

Fast forward 6 hours and you walk out feeling disillusioned. Same old ideas, no consensus, no clear actions to move forward.

Why are some meetings so ineffective?

Meetings are an important part of the mechanics of a business. They are good for information sharing (broadcasting). But seem less effective at information gathering (listening) and often fall flat when tasked with encouraging collaborative and creative problem solving.

Part of the issue is that people have to wear multiple hats in a meeting. They have to be organiser, facilitator, subject matter expert and leader. Out of all of those hats, the one that makes people feel most uncomfortable is facilitator. It is a skill in itself. It goes beyond setting the agenda and figuring out the goals, a facilitator needs to concentrate on how to move through the agenda and meet those goals effectively.

The other issue is that people haven’t been taught the tools and process to make things work.

A good workshop is in essence a series of activities bolted together. Do this well and the impact can be significant. You can walk out with new ideas, consensus and a list of actions. But the impact of a good workshop goes beyond the output generated within those 4 walls. Teams are energised and enthused. They have greater belief in being able to implement change. And they take that back to their desks and apply that mindset to their business as usual.

My top 4 tips and tricks:

1) Define the mode of the meeting

Get people to shout out some words to define how they want the meeting to work and write them on a flipchart. This does 2 things, it gets the group to decide the practical rules (no phones etc.) and it usually highlights some of the constraints that hold a group back (any idea is a good idea, every voice is equal). And hopefully someone in the room will mention the F word – FUN!

2) Try an icebreaker

Love them or hate them, an icebreaker is very effective. They start to break down some of the “business as usual” mindset and get the participants working together as a group. Even if, it falls flat on its face and the whole group is rolling their eyes, at least they are sharing an experience, the mutual hatred of icebreakers!

3) Mix up individual, breakout and whole group activities

This improves the quality of the output and keeps energy levels up. In particular, don’t do brainstorming by shouting out ideas as a group. The risk is that strong characters dominate and you end up with a herd mentality. Better to give individuals 2 mins to write all their ideas on post-its and then share as a group.

4) Try something completely different

We developed to provide a complete toolkit that allows you to put innovation processes and tools straight into practice. As part of it, we created the Workshop Designer, which will tailor a workshop to your needs and create your bespoke facilitation pack. We have used our knowledge of Design Thinking and Lean Start Up, and combined this with our experience as facilitators to create fool-proof activities which can transform meetings.

With a few clicks, the tool will tailor a workshop to your needs and create your bespoke facilitation pack.

For more information on how to run a great workshop and other ways to put innovation in practice, visit