We have all been in meetings when we have been encouraged to think ‘outside the box’, ‘use a blank sheet of paper’ and ‘blue sky dream’. They are nothing new. However, the success of these meetings is dependent upon the attendees, the preparation and the ability to listen. Blue sky thinking quickly deteriorates into a rainy day when the managers begin to see the problems too soon and the potential for new things is swamped by the clouds of past failings. Setting up these meetings well is so important.
Here are a few steps that may help;
- Determine who will attend – these meetings need more creatives than managers. You want ideas to flow without restraint, in the initial stages, and therefore require the big thinkers.
- Guard the ‘rules of the meeting’ – the chair of the meeting needs to ensure that all voices are heard. However, this is not enough, the chair of the meeting must also ensure that clouds are not allowed to form – stay strong in this.
- Every new idea matters – there is nothing in blue sky thinking that should be out of bounds, the limitations come in the next stages of discussion.
- Positive energy – the meeting should be positive thinking, leave the negative views at the door.
- Reward the thinkers – rewards take all shapes and forms but we need to credit those who come up with new ideas, they are the lifeblood of any organisation and prevent stagnation. If we value these people, they will continue to contribute to the benefit of everyone. They are often taking a big personal risk in sharing their ideas.
- Listen well – attendees must listen to absorb what is said. Then ideas can flourish – we often listen to argue with what is said, this is not listening, it is combat!
There are many more that could be added to the list, these are just for starters…..keep dreaming!