1. How to free up time to innovate using the meeting audit!

    By Russ Schoen

    “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.”

    – Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

    What is one of the most common barriers to innovation?

    During most innovation workshops that I facilitate, at some point I’ll ask the group, what are the barriers to innovating here?

    One of the most common answers given is “we don’t have enough time to innovate.”

    When I follow up with the question, well what is one of most unproductive uses of your time in this organization? The most common answer is – yup, You guessed it. Meetings.

    Think about your own work life for a moment. Think about the last five meetings you attended at work. Would you say they were engaging? productive? A good use of your time and your fellow colleagues’ time?

    Chances are, you answered that at least one in three of those meetings was a complete waste of your time. If so, don’t fret you are not alone.

    Did you know?

    In surveys conducted — in the US alone - where approximately 11,000,000 meetings are held every week as many as 25–50% of those meetings are characterized by those attending them as a waste of time.*

    Not only that. Here’s one more bit of bad meeting news. An MIT Sloan Management study showed that the more time employees spend in unproductive meetings, the more dissatisfied they are with their work and more likely they are to quit their jobs. Ouch.

    (*source: MIT Sloan Management: The Science and Fiction of Meetings: Winter 2007)

    So if you really want to free up some time to innovate, one of the best ways to do so is to clear out some space to innovate. And one of the quickest ways to do that is a meeting audit!

    What is a Meeting Audit and how do I conduct one?

    The purpose of a meeting audit is to identify meetings that you can stop holding (or attending) or that you can shorten which will free up time. A deliberate meeting audit takes about 30 minutes with a team and many teams find that they can cut about 20% of the total meetings they hold or attend on a monthly basis.

    To conduct a meeting audit, gather your team (and you can do this alone if you work independently)

    1. Create a list of all the meetings you and your team hold or attend on a regular basis (we recommend on a flipchart or white board)
    2. Review the list with the whole team and ask, which of these meetings could we stop holding? Which ones really are not that productive? Which ones can be shortened or altered? Which ones do we really need to attend and which ones can we stop attending?
    3. Physically, cross out the meetings that the group would like to stop holding or attending.
    4. Add up the time that will be freed up for your team if you stopped holding those meetings.
    5. Commit to using that time towards innovation efforts.

    Got concerns?

    Now you may be thinking, there is no way that we can stop holding that monthly x meeting! People will flip. It’s too important. Well one suggestion is not to kill the meeting all together – take a break from holding or attending meeting for a month and see if people really miss it. If they do, you can always reinstate it (and hopefully make some changes to make it more productive). If its not missed it, then you can officially kill it!

    Time to Innovate: Next Step

    So if you want to innovate and you think you don’t have enough time, why not conduct a meeting audit? You’ll deliberately clear out some much needed space and time from your schedule and overcome one of the most frequently cited barriers to innovation!

    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 1 year ago
  2. Why is it so Damn Hard to Find Time to be Creative - Part 2

    By Sharon Walsh

    Click here to read part 1.

    Focus on getting things done

    We love the sense of accomplishment that we get when we have get things done. There are even books to help us organize and prioritize tasks since we have so much to do.

    We are often measured and rewarded for the things we do. Companies are adding to this pressure by forcing employees to get even more done. However, the thinking behind the doing is unfortunately sometimes overlooked. We are taught to create goals that are measurable – but creative thinking isn’t measurable.

    Research by Teresa Amabile of Harvard University has shown that when people are under time pressure and working long hours, they are less creative. It takes days for them to recover and reengage thinking rather than just doing.

    One challenge is that different kinds of thinking is needed for implementation rather creativity. When we are doing things, we use tactical thinking. When we are being creative we need to access more strategic or ideational thinking. The challenge is that tactical thinking brings up our habits. Once we are working from our habits, we are more in our comfort zone making it even harder to switch into creative thinking.

    As Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem, and one minute finding solutions.” And yet, problem clarification is so overlooked! Simply asking clarifying questions such as can jumpstart creative juices and speed up the creative process:

    • What are we trying to accomplish?
    • What do we wish was different?
    • Why is that important?
    • What is stopping us from doing this?

    Click here to read part 3.

    Click here to read part 4.

    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 2 years ago