Meeting agreements are like vehicles: you choose the right one for the kind of trip you want to take. For a standard meeting covering business as usual, you set the stage for success by using sturdy, well-known meeting agreements like these:
Be courteous and wait your turn
Listen to understand
Be on time
Like pickup trucks and 4-door sedans, these meeting agreements fit most groups and get the job done most of the time.
But some meetings are far from standard. What if you need breakthrough solutions to a tricky issue? What if your team has been stuck in a thinking rut, relying on the same tired tools and assumptions? What if you need extraordinary results?
For these situations, a different vehicle will serve you better. You’ll need meeting agreements that create the conditions for “wow!” and inspire brilliance from the minds of your people. That’s because truly creative thinking takes place only when the meeting environment is made safe for people to speak about new ideas, a sometimes vulnerable and risky act in many organizations.
My “Creative Manifesto” is that sexy, avant-garde Lotus, a meeting agreement speedster that helps people to catalyze the flow of ideas, while addressing the bugaboos that stifle creativity.
When you need to transform a meeting into a friendly incubator for new thinking, use the Creative Manifesto:
THE CREATIVE MANIFESTO
Participants agree to:
Choose an attitude of curiosity instead of certainty or defensiveness: This agreement creates an open mindset, where people are willing to play with others’ ideas and follow quirky ideas to interesting conclusions.
Release ownership of my ideas, so they can mingle and expand with other ideas: Many professional people have learned to place great value on their ideas because they’re paid for their thinking ability! However, breakthrough thinking occurs in teams, where the diversity of expertise and thinking is the real asset for innovation. This agreement changes the norm, enabling people to let go of ownership.
Listen deeply to others, because they will spark my own creativity: Just as in improv comedy, breakthrough innovation becomes possible when team members build on each other’s ideas. This agreement focuses on listening, the necessary skill for this to happen.
To honor diversity of thought, experience, and opinion as the source of truly innovative solutions: Give respect to everyone’s unique experience and knowledge as a valuable source of ideas. With this agreement, everyone’s point of view is important.
Be okay with stepping out of my comfort zone, even if it makes me uncomfortable: Acknowledge that it can feel risky to express newly formed thoughts to others. Magically, when people feel they have permission to feel uncomfortable, they more readily step outside normal bounds of thinking.
Focus on possibilities: “We can do this if….” and “How can we…?” These questions assume that “we can,” thereby avoiding negative thinking. This agreement also helps people realize that a universe of solutions exists for solving their challenge.
Have fun! A playful attitude unclenches the mind, makes way for “what if” thinking, and takes satisfaction in the transformation of ideas into solutions.