Ever wonder how you can get everyone in a meeting to collaborate and share their ideas?

I was recently involved in an innovation round table with some incredibly smart people and I'm happy to say it was a smashing success in terms of collaboration for innovation.

One of the big obstacles at meetings is getting people to collaborate and share their ideas. The reason why most meetings don't work well is that there is poor facilitation behind the meeting. 

The typical brainstorming session goes like this: 
* Authoritative person stands up and says what the problem is
* 3 seconds later the authoritative person asks the group if they have any ideas or solutions
* Followed by stone cold silence until someone shares some thoughts that aren't really new or helpful, other than in breaking the silence. 

So why is it that so many meetings become unproductive in terms of new ideas? Essentially most meetings fail to be innovative because they haven't been designed. Period. 

If you want interaction, the best thing you can do is to design interactive activities that will enable interaction. People are silent for a solution because they haven't had time to think about an answer and even if they had an answer most people (98% of the population) feel uncomfortable speaking publicly and therefore will keep it themselves.

We need to give people a structured question or activity, to give people thinking time, to allow people to share with a partner, and to share with the group.

Here's the 4 stages that will help to facilitate collaboration. 

 1. Share with yourself
"We're facing a big challenge at the moment our sales have been decreasing despite releasing a new product with good reviews. We seem to be dropping the ball around our customer experience. Let's spend a few minutes thinking of where our weakest points might be in our customer experience. Grab a sheet of paper and jot down as many thoughts as you can in the time that this song plays for (play a 3 minute song from a smart phone or computer)". 

 2. Share with your partner
"Now that we've got some ideas jotted down share with the person next to you and discuss your thoughts on those customer experience pain points" 

 3. Share with the table
If a big meeting with separate tables: "Okay now share with other people at your table as to what your thoughts are" 

 4. Share with the whole group
"Now let's share with the whole group, who's heard of some good areas that we could improve on?" 

To find out more about the power of innovation, consider our upcoming innovation spring fling being held at the Sydney Business School. For more information visit http://commercialinnovationsummit.com.au/