When you’re asked to brainstorm some new ideas, who do you invite to the meeting?  Are you inviting like-minded individuals, those you may have worked with before or you seem to get along with?

This may seem like a good idea, but you could be missing out on some vital thought processes and opinions.   For instance, you could be only inviting those in your inner circle (also known as in-group) – those you personally trust, respect and who you believe are good at their job.  It’s your personal opinion, but that doesn’t actually mean that they can’t be trusted, respected or aren’t good at their job.  Known as a cognitive bias (an unconscious “rule of thumb” we use to help us short-cut our decision making process), there is a risk that this could very easily reduce the creative ability of your group.

If we want to generate new and unusual solutions for problems, we want to move away from the known and recognised, and encourage flexibility and novelty of ideas.  Making the most of a diverse group of contributors, who will challenge the “norm”, will help towards this.

Additionally, when you’re facilitating the meeting, it’s worth being aware of another bias we have – group-think.  This is a pressure to conform to a group decision, rather than being encouraged to highlight and act on our own individual experience and ideas.

This can be especially prevalent if you’ve also only got your inner circle in the meeting.  As an example, group-think can appear obvious when there are new-comers to the team who others may see as irrational or too different (not fitting in with the culture).  Ultimately it can often be the cause of some decisions that have ended up being extremely risky ones to have taken because it’s lacked any real challenge.

It can be tricky to facilitate a meeting that includes the full spectrum from what may at first appear as wacky ideas to realistic facts and figures.  I’ve been in meetings where those with unusual ideas have complained about being de-motivated by questions on practicalities, and those that require fact-based reasoning have thought new concepts are beyond achievable.  However, if all team members feel safe to contribute and understand that conversations are actively expected to include this array of ideas, then innovation can be fun.

When looking to encourage creativity in a meeting, a confident leader will not be trying to ensure everyone gets along, allow a group or individual to dominate, or want to compromise on ideas.  They will be looking to encourage a healthy debate and respect for all involved, whilst ultimately thinking outside of that box.


Expand the Jigsaw2If you’re looking for help to develop an environment for creative discussions within your team, then subscribe to download our free guide , Expand the Jigsaw.

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