Meetings are the backbone of any business or organization. Without meetings, teams won’t be able to synchronize with each other, build trust, improve communication and work together towards achieving a common goal.
There are many types of meetings that occur within an organization. From daily huddle meetings to team meetings, from board of directors meetings to strategy meetings – it’s safe to say that meetings eat up a huge chunk of every employee’s time. That’s not what we’re here for, though. If you’re looking for ways to improve the productivity and efficiency of your business meeting, try a meeting management tool.
Today, we will take a look at one specific type of meeting, which might be one of the most important meetings to have with your team. As you’ve guessed by the title, we will talk about innovation meetings. We will also make sure that by the end of this article, you will have a clear idea of how essential it is to run innovation meetings with your coworkers consistently! Let’s dive in!
👉 See how long a meeting should be for better productivity results.
What is an Innovation Meeting?
An innovation meeting is a meeting during which participants build off of one another’s ideas and end up creating or updating a product of their collective intelligence. The idea behind these types of meetings is to have a room full of intellectuals throwing creative ideas at each other with the goal of coming up with a solution to a problem or generating an entirely new idea that will potentially transform the future of the company or organization they work for.
Innovation meetings are held because collective intelligence has proven out to be more productive and effective than having ten different individuals, for example, coming up with ideas on their own. The collective intelligence of people, especially with different expertise, different points of view and various backgrounds, can easily result in your business’ next big product!
Innovation meetings are not scheduled to test the ability of each team member to come up with brilliant ideas. Moreover, an innovation meeting is not an exam and there are no test scores after it ends. Even if not a single member of the team can throw a great idea, that doesn’t mean an excellent new venture idea won’t be born during the meeting. When you have a room full of people who are looking towards the same direction, a fruitful discussion can easily occur. Sharing and combining insights, along with a little bit of outside-the-box thinking, topped with brainstorming, associating and throwing even broder ideas and opinions is all you need to call an innovation meeting a success.
Of course, a conference room, crowded with opinionated speakers is bound to result in even a tiny workplace conflict if the meeting is not run properly. However, through various techniques and processes, as well as ranking, evaluations and good decision-making techniques, the most suitable idea (or ideas) are identified and action items can immediately be assigned.
What are The Goals for Innovation Meetings
- Come up with new ideas for projects, products, services, etc.
- Design or redesign products.
- Develop new approaches for your business.
- Redesign an already existing approach for your business.
- Solve an existing problem.
- Establishing the importance of teamwork and collaboration.
What are The Key Roles in Innovation Meetings
It’s important to mention that innovation meetings usually happen at the beginning of a project lifecycle as you don’t have a final goal refined or defined.
However, if you have a very driven and enthusiastic team, goals, objectives and directions would be aligned early on in the process. This is especially valid for smaller teams as everyone feels ownership and responsibility for the success of the product or service.
During those initial innovative meetings it’s highly recommended that you be inclusive and invite everyone who will participate in the development process. This way, you can tap into everyone’s knowledge, experience and expertise. Moreover, everyone will be assigned to work on something that they agreed with so not a single team member will be disappointed.
Usually, there are three key roles in an innovation meeting.
- Meeting Leader
As with any other meeting, it’s advisable to have a meeting leader in charge of running and direction the flow of ideas during an innovation meeting. However, it’s also important to note that an innovation meeting is probably the least hierarchical meeting, meaning that the meeting leader won’t have the same responsibilities for preparing for it as compared to, let’s say, a board of directors meeting. The whole idea behind an innovation meeting is built around freedom of expression, brainstorming and having a safe environment where you don’t have to follow a strict agenda, minute by minute. Designate a meeting leader who will make sure no conflicts, heated discussions or interruptions happen and the meeting ends on time.
Of course, you can’t have an innovation meeting without the innovators, which are your team members. It’s important to hear a variety of perspectives, experiences and opinions. That’s why, many meeting leaders or managers like to invite people that are less familiar with the area you seek to innovate or are part of different departments. You never know who can bring that much needed fresh perspective and who will ask that important question no one has thought of asking before.
- Note-taker / Minutes of Meeting Taker
A crucial role to innovation meetings is that of a note-taker or minutes of meeting taker. All ideas should be written down, along with comments, concerns and any other points brought into the discussion.
Often, the first choice of ideas don’t work out. Don’t brainstorm all over again, though. Go back to the meeting notes or meeting report and see what were some other great ideas. You can save time and it’s also an official document of the meeting you can keep in your company’s archives.
👉 See how to use meeting minutes templates for improved efficiency of your meeting.
Innovation Meetings Challenges
Inspiring and facilitating free idea sharing, discussions and brainstorming sessions can present some challenges. Some of those include:
- Creating a Suitable Environment
Creating an inspiring environment is one of the most difficult challenges when organizing an innovation meeting. Attendees should feel comfortable and given equal opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas, without feeling overwhelmed or reserved. Meeting leaders and managers should find what meeting format best suits their teams and use it consistently to get new ideas flowing. Of course, a lot has to do with your management style, the relationship between the team members and company culture.
- Creating a Non-Judgment Environment
Follow a meeting culture that allows any team member, whether a junior or senior, to freely share their ideas without feeling judged or mocked by senior employees or management. Fresh considerations should be given equal chance and same consideration as ideas that come by seasoned executives or team leaders.
- Mixing Different Perspectives Into One Great Idea
Throw away the notion that the majority wins. An innovation meeting is not a voting session. Therefore, you shouldn’t play down on different views or the opinions of minorities in favor of unifying the team and “get it over with.” In innovation, mixing two or more different ideas and perspectives into one is what produces new solutions.
How to Run an Innovation Meeting Effectively
Before the innovation meeting, meeting leaders should prepare questions. They can even prepare a meeting agenda, if necessary. Once the process of brainstorming has started, a meeting leader should be ready with the right questions.
Spark a conversation by reminding everyone of your current team goals and priorities. Have a clear introduction part (not more than 10 minutes) during which everyone can share how the work is being going, what are some of the challenges they are facing and if there’s anything else that needs to be addressed before the process of innovation begins.
- Brainstorming and Idea Evaluation
As mentioned, the goal of innovation meeting is to give birth to great new ideas you can utilize in your business for better results. The more ideas you generate, the bigger the chance there is for coming across diamonds in the rough. That’s why it’s very important to find ways to get everyone’s brain working.
Begin the meeting with some activities that spark interest and excitement among the team. Have your note-taker record all the ideas. Have as many ideas and opinions as possible thrown into the idea pool. After that, you can refine and evaluate these ideas by categorizing them and listing practical steps with the help of your team’s input, of course.
- Involve Stakeholders
Don’t forget to invite key stakeholders to your next innovation meeting. When stakeholders see their ideas being taken into consideration and brainstormed by the entire team, they feel like they have been part of the process and are more likely to be supportive of any future decisions.
- Utilize Technology
Fortunately, there are plenty of meeting management tools available that can help you with your next innovation meeting. Those tools can be especially helpful if you have to manage a team while social distancing and you still want to keep those innovation meetings on your weekly or monthly agenda.
Such online platforms can create an environment where you can visualize ideas and different perspectives side-by-side and the group’s collective intelligence can be efficiently harvested.
- Put Focus on the Idea, Rather Than The Person Behind It
Another useful tip on how to run innovation meetings successfully is utilizing the anonymous idea-sharing technique. Have everyone throw their two cents on an issue or propose a new solution or an idea for a product anonymously. Then, let the group consider each idea on it’s own without being biased or associating it with a particular person.
Now, more than ever, companies all over the world realize that innovation is a major factor for prosperity, growth and success. Younger generations of workers, hungry for opportunities and armed with tons of technical knowledge and fresh minds are ready to contribute. On the other hand, managers, senior stakeholders and business owners who have been in the game for quite some time are ready to take on that contribution and capitalize on it. That business reality has spawned this relatively new category of meetings – innovation meetings. Use the above-mentioned guidelines to run a successful innovation meeting and who knows, you may come across your next big venture!