I've written before several times about rules for creative meetings, but wanted to create the "ultimate list of rules," all together in one place! Creating an environment for "being creative" takes work. It takes energy and preparation. You don't just show up and flip the creative switch on immediately.
There is a reason that certain groups and organizations are ultimately more creative than others- it's because they are on purpose when it comes to creating the right kind of environment for creativity. They are intentional with creating the creative environment.
Here at Catalyst, we are very intentional about our creative process. It's part of our DNA.
When it comes to creating the right kind of environment, we've established some "rules" (suggested behavior) for our "creative" meetings:
1. Set the expectations for the meeting up front. Be very clear, even if there are no rules.
2. All ideas are welcome and needed. There is no bad answer. Ever.
3. Many times the great ideas end up being an average idea that was built on and built on and built on. Give the average ideas a chance.
4. The answer is always “yes, and” and never “no, but” in a brainstorming meeting. Debbie downer and Mr. No aren’t invited. NO has no place at the table. Ever.
5. No one person can dominate the conversation/meeting. Respect everyone's participation and their thoughts.
6. Allow for movement- standing up, walking, sitting down, whatever works for people- especially those with shorter attention spans!
7. Provide creative "extras", such as toys, sports items, collectives, visual effects and other "enhancers."
8. Take mental breaks every 30-40 minutes, and physical breaks every 90 minutes at minimum.
9. Take VERY detailed notes. Capture everything that is said and created. You have to have a dedicated notetaker. Record every idea that’s thrown out. Capturing ideas and then being able to find them later and put them into action is crucial. Everyone thinks they can remember the best ideas, but literally within a couple of hours you’ll have forgotten.
10. Always allow for rabbit trails, but have a facilitator who keeps things moving in a certain direction.
11. Keep the fun factor high. Keep the fun meter above 50%. If it drops below that, stop and re-establish the fun factor.
12. If you have anyone leaning towards operations or finance or asking the question of “how much will that cost” then they are banned and can’t ever come to a brainstorming meeting again. Unless they can think outside the box, keep the bean counters out.
13. Think/dream way bigger and with no limitations whatsoever. Try to develop ideas outside the norm and outside your industry or niche.
14. Make sure you do your homework. Research ideas, get on youtube for a couple of hours, see what others are doing, and intentionally find ideas and insight that will fuel conversations and idea development.
15. Music, vibe and atmosphere are crucial. Set a tone with the appropriate music, appropriate and energetic lighting, lots of snacks, and plenty of coffee and caffeine. A high energy environment makes being creative way easier.
16. Invite friends from outside your team. Most creative people love being invited to creative meetings with other teams, because they know it will be invigorating and fun.
17. If possible, make sure your facilitator is NOT a participant. It keeps them neutral and away from "liking" certain ideas and thus influencing the nature of what ideas seem to be the most popular.
18. The meeting is only the beginning. The best ideas typically are created, gathered, and decided on outside of creative meetings. Make sure your creative meeting is a Catalyst for ongoing conversations and creative ideas.
Hopefully these are helpful as you create, brainstorm and ideate in your own environments.....