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Let design thinking lead the way for engaging meetings


A traditional meeting room is really an obstacle. Since it is designed as a replica of the old industrial society’s assembly lines and labour division, where creativity at best is same as that some can manage to think out of the box. But why have a meeting in a box? From a design thinking perspective, this is crazy. Especially since it starts processes with the individual human and her preferences and competence to find solutions. The fuel for such foundation for a meeting is individual creativity and a workable method to find solutions is brainstorming. However, since only one meeting participant can speak at the time, at least one preparing step is required to optimize the meeting environment in a design thinking mood.

Let’s put this vision into practice but first some statistics: There are more than 3 billion meetings in organizations per year, 1 billion of these meetings can be considered wasted time, 90% of meeting participants admit to daydreaming during the session, while 73% is occupied by other work during meetings. The TED-talkers David Grady and Jason Fried estimate that $37 billion a year is wasted only in the US on bad meetings or two months of working-time per year. To use Jason Fried’s words: “Meetings aren’t work – meetings are places to go talk about things you’re supposed to be doing later”. But then what is the solution for the lack of engagement and efficiency? Let’s turn to uniting rational- and emotional intelligence, and make tech form the bridge to put meetings in a design thinking mood.

Already in the 1930s, Alex Osborn acknowledged what Grady and Fried put forward in their TEDtalks and he developed the brainstorming methodology that was built on two principles: 1. Judgements of ideas should be avoided at the time they are put forward, 2. The quantity of ideas forms the basis of the quality within the creative process. However, research shows that brainstorming groups only generate half as many ideas as the sum of ideas that are generated when people work independently. This is where tech can form a bridge towards engagement and efficiency by opening the idea-generating process before the meeting on a knowledge management platform. Here everybody of the participants in the meeting can make their voice heard without interruptions or bad judgements from others. Then it will be possible at the meeting to weigh the different ideas against each other to find the best solution. This is a model for idea-generation, solutions and human interaction, where both emotional- and rational intelligence is required for the best possible result. This in contradiction to the traditional meeting-form’s old assembly line process mentality as described above, where labour division is rule and the manufacturing is to the largest part predetermined.

For a more detailed description on how to make work-meetings more engaging and efficient, please read my book “Learning Design in Practice for Everybody”. Here the 6iModel is presented with which you can adapt your meetings from your specific prerequisites by putting them in a design thinking mood.

Written by
LarsGoran Bostrom©

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