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How to Ace Productive Brainstorming and Collective Work for Teams

Written by Ralitsa Golemanova

Who wouldn’t like to have less meetings in the office? Or really amazing brainstorming sessions that burst with creativity?

We all want to, but the everyday cycle of office life does not permit much of a change. Together we block into the repetitive way our work occurs and feel powerless to alter it.

For most knowledge workers today, it’s apparent that endless and unproductive meetings suck the blood out of a team. Yet it’s so difficult to say no the next time somebody organizes one of those.

But here’s some good news. Our collective work in teams can and will become more productive if we decide to and apply our dedication daily to change our routines.

In this third part of our series of articles How to Make Teamwork Work that explore different aspects of achieving the collective flow, it’s time to look at a tricky topic.

How to improve team meetings and get the best results from them, without spending our days in stuffy meeting rooms drawing lines and dragons on old receipts?  

#1. Make less meetings with clearer goals

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There is a wide range of reasons why people set meetings in an office environment. There might be a need to align the team or announce news; to discuss a project; to solve a common problem; or to come up with ideas together.

Whatever the purpose is, though, there is a set of tips that you can follow in your team to get more out of meetings, in less time.

Any impetus for a meeting should be followed by a clear plan what it should achieve and who is the responsible person to lead it and check its efficiency. Using such an approach is also in line with productive task management for teams in general.

Sounds simple, but if you analyze your daily get-togethers, you might notice this rule is easily skipped. By making an agenda, you can verify whether there is an actual need for doing a meeting or you can arrange stuff over chat or email.

Next step: carefully choose who has to attend and who doesn’t need to. If you’re aiming to get stuff done and not simply discuss, the less people there are, the easier it’s going to be. Plus, you’ll reduce wasted hours for your teammates.

And finally, you should know when to conclude the meeting. Here at Swipes, we hold our meetings while standing, not sitting, and we’ve seen in practice that this helps to keep them short and productive.

So, what’s the right moment to stop? Whenever you’ve decided the next action steps and set deadlines for achieving them. Yes, exactly then, and not a minute later.

#2. Brainstorming sessions: learn the rules to break them

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One of the most important reasons to get together with your teammates is to come up with new and awesome ideas. A fruitful brainstorming session is all it takes.

But how to create the setting for such ideation meetings? The tips for less meetings with clear goals hold true here, but you need a pinch of inspiration to really get creative results.

First of all, you need structure to break it successfully afterwards. Just getting together with a bunch of your teammates is not guaranteed to bring the desired goal. You have to set the problem you want to solve and the possible venues for doing it.

Once you all get that clarity, it’s time for individual work. When each team member takes some time to delve in the topic and come up with new solutions, your common work will have a solid ground to start from.

And then comes the time for the actual brainstorming together. A few useful tips here are to let all ideas be shared freely, however crazy they are, without commenting on their quality at first, and just create the mindspace for the team.

An important factor in how well your session will go is the actual location you choose for it. Instead of going with the old boring meeting room, why not go wild and have your brainstorming in the nature, in the park, or just at a nice cafe in town? Opportunities for creativity are endless.

#3. Seek the collective flow together

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And finally, it’s time for a bit of theory to apply on top of the practical tips on organizing meetings and brainstorming sessions.

In order for any effort to improve the way these team get-togethers are held, it’s best if you and your teammates invest a bit of time to understand the way the personal and collective flow states work.

You don’t need to reduce the number of meetings or make them more goal-oriented just for the sake of saving time. Such an approach actually helps all teammates to experience merging of action and awareness, which is an indicator of achieving the flow state.

And you can’t get in this mind state if you’re bored to death with an endless discussion. Only when meetings and brainstorming sessions are sharp and to the point the participants can get to that unification of individual awareness and common actions.

The goal is to use single-tasking (rather than being in a meeting, checking your email and thinking about the movie tonight, all in the same time) to get to a mindspace in which teammates lose track of time and their ego commentator shuts up.

Or simply put, a state in which the team functions like a well-trained orchestra of professional musicians.

What are your top tips for boosting the results from brainstorming and meetings in your office? We’d love to learn about them and try them out!

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