Skip Navigation
Resources |
The Big Idea

No Agendas Allowed: Tips for Better Brainstorming

We’ve all heard the best practices for creating a meeting: set an agenda, send Outlook invitations, arrive on time, end the meeting at the specified time, etc. These are valuable tips for typical, cookie-cutter business meetings but might be ineffective for thinking outside the box for creative brainstorming.

So what is collaboration, and why is an agenda its nemesis?

Collaboration is a meeting of minds ― taking ideas from multiple people (even if it’s only two of you) and working toward creating something NEW. What that “something” is all depends on who’s involved. Friends put their heads together over where to go on Saturday night. Family members negotiate where to celebrate the holidays. Spouses talk about what to make for dinner. As social beings, we’re in a constant state of collaboration. So why is it so difficult in a business setting? Answer: the agenda.

Assess your audience.

Ask yourself this series of questions about the people in your next meeting:

  1. How often do I talk to them when it’s not reserved in my Outlook calendar?
  2. How well do I know them outside of their job roles?
  3. Do we hush people who bring up topics not on the agenda? Why?
  4. Are we really changing anything or are we just along for the ride?

Don’t just show up – achieve something

What is the true goal of getting together? To get something done. Here are some tactics you can apply to help jumpstart your next meeting in a new, creative direction.

  1. Rally your teammates for an on-the-fly meeting (if you’re a virtual team, you can do this today using video meeting software) and ask them what they want to talk about.
  2. Instead of an agenda, email a one- to two-sentence note about the topic of your meeting.
  3. Hush! If you’re in a leadership role, let the awkward silences bring out communication between your team. (You never know – maybe you’ll find the next company thought leader who never got a word in edgewise …).
  4. Use social media to connect (a blog, Twitter or your company intranet) ― it’s perfect for creating personal connections and a happier working environment.
  5. Play a game, start a competition and reward others for thinking outside the box.

Collaboration in our private lives comes naturally. Applying effective methods in the workplace takes more flexibility and openness to embracing new ways of doing things. As the business world grows more global and more virtual, try bringing new technologies (and brainstorming freedom) into your daily working life.