There are many reasons for a leader to hold meeting, including but not limited to the dissemination of information, planning for an upcoming week, allowing opportunities for different divisions and/or groups within the organization to share ideas, or review of company policy. Occasionally a leader needs creative input from his/her team. It is this type of meeting being discussed in this article. To maximize the creativity of a group I recommend following these twelve steps:

1. Have a clear purpose for the meeting. Respect the time commitment of everyone. It’s not just your schedule being affected.

2. Have a written agenda. Be realistic on the time required and the items needing attention. Distribute the agenda in advance to all attendees. This allows participants the opportunity to prepare their contribution.

3. Follow the agenda. Begin the meeting by telling everyone this is an “idea safe-house” and every member of the team and every idea will be valued. Assuming you have been realistic on the scheduled time, it is important to take action on most if not all of the items.

4. Tactfully keep the meeting moving forward. When a team member goes off track, pull him or her back with the “parking lot” approach. You might say, “Jim, that issue certainly deserves further discussion. Would you mind if we ‘parked’ it temporarily which would allow us to give it our full attention at another meeting?”

5. Show respect for all ideas. Let everyone know you value his or her input, by listening. When seeking multiple ideas, record them on a flip chart, marker board or overhead projector. Help the group attack the problem, not each other.

6. When brainstorming, the goal is quantity of ideas. Initially the leader should step back, collect ideas and defer judgment. Creatively, there are no bad ideas. Every expressed thought could help move the group toward a solution.

7. Positively acknowledge contributors. Encourage more group participation with your body language: eye contact, nods, or smiles. Verbally motivate contributions by appreciative comments, such as “thank you,” or “interesting solution.”

8. Try getting everyone’s input. Draw out any shy participants or late arrivals. People are more likely to support what they help create. Participants may hitchhike a more defined solution on someone else’s creative thought. In an “idea safe” atmosphere, the magic of creativity flourishes, settling on the shoulders of all involved.

9. Spend less time talking about the problem. Let participants know the idea generation is limited to 10 minutes. The leader should allow this process to play itself out within this time limit. The group is then asked to begin evaluating the possible solutions. Again, it is important for the leader to allow the group to make their judgments and control any negative feedback. Spend more time working on the possible solution and the plan to achieve it.

10. Share the floor during the meeting. You want a dialogue with many, not a monologue of one. The leader might prompt additional creative input by asking questions. For example, “What effect could this solution have on other departments?” or “How could we diffuse that cost?”

11. Distribute authority and responsibility. When the group has selected the most effective idea, work on specific steps toward implementation. The plan evolving from this group effort will be more likely to have examined the issue from multiple sides. It will also have broader support and a much higher likelihood of success. Allow several people to be part of the implementation. Make a note of who is responsible for completing each step and decide on a deadline for implementation.

12. Start and stop on time. Show consideration for everyone’s busy schedule. Keep this thought in mind… For every minute you delay or go over the allotted time you can subtract two minutes of morale.

The preceding steps are not appropriate for all types of meetings. However, following these guidelines will facilitate participation from all members of the team and exponentially increase the creativity of the resulting decisions.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Highsmith,, is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at or call Rick toll-free at 1-888-484-8326 X101.