6 Questions to Run More Effective Meetings and Lead Teams Better

by catherine mattiske · 5 min read
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Many managers seek consensus (aka group thinking) without realizing it can shut down innovation and discourage creative problem solving.
Many managers seek consensus (aka group thinking) without realizing it can shut down innovation and discourage creative problem solving. In team meetings, many participants are keen to not ruffle feathers. This may rob the company of innovative ideas that could be the key to improved profits next quarter. What if alternative points of view, diversity of thought, different ideas, and speaking up were part of your company culture, and that made a difference to your bottom line? Good meeting facilitators encourage individuals to share diverse opinions, or even outright dissent, rather than promoting groupthink. Facilitators who reward creative thinking and solutions build a culture of creative problem solvers and innovators. As a team meeting facilitator, how can you effectively gather and listen to these dissenting opinions?
Here are six questions to ask along with how they can boost your culture and bottom line results:

1. If money were no object, what would you do?

Often budgets dictate the range of choices and the solutions we consider. Creativity suffers when we start with the presumption that there is not enough money. If we remove the bondage of budget, we can explore a full range of ideas. Brainstorming ideas without regard to cost can spur innovative ideas that may end up being financially feasible, leading to greater profits and even cost savings. So dream big first and then put a price tag on it.

2. If human resources were no object, what would you do?

Like the money question, this one also encourages people to think bigger, without constraints. Yet it is a question facilitators may be hesitant to ask, out of concern that people will focus on organizational shortcoming in terms of talent, or for fear of appearing politically incorrect. However, if we stay focused on each other’s humanity, and connect as humans with empathy, this question can help us get a clear-eyed view of who as well as what our organization needs to succeed.

3. If the company was faced with closing tomorrow, and we only had one idea to sustain it, what would that idea be?

Just as thinking about the finite nature of your own life can help you focus on how you want to spend your time, asking this question can put organizational priorities into perspective. It can help teams in all departments prioritize their contributions to the company’s sustainability, and renew a sense of purpose. To make sure this question does not devolve into a fear-based conversation, present it as a chance to talk about the company’s legacy and lasting contribution, or what the world would be like without that legacy, like in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Approach it like a game versus something too serious, and you will probably be surprised and inspired by some of the answers you hear.

4. What are the other facts and information we need to make a decision?

This question can be applied to company-wide or team-specific decisions. Since our focus here is on team meetings, consider the answers your team members give and how it relates to their own unique Inner Genius. Each person fits one of 12 Inner Genius archetypes, which can be ascertained by taking a brief online profile. You will find, for instance, that some people are very detail-oriented while others will tend to focus on the larger picture, and they give very different answers based on their perspective. It’s the same with those who tend to speak up versus those who tend to be quieter in meetings. All have valuable perspectives to contribute that can help you avoid blind spots when making important decisions.

5. What is the wildest way we could solve this problem?

When we think of the word wild, synonyms such as untamed, undomesticated, and uncultivated come to mind. So do words like free, unruly, and diverse. Considering what might be the wildest solution helps us step away from limitations, whether they are cultural, budgetary, or personnel-related, and to think free from such constraints. This is commonly called “out of the box” thinking, but wild is more active, daring and fun - don’t you think? Who knows where the answers may lead?

6. What are all the logical negatives that could go wrong?

Asking this question can help us identify not only which roadblocks are “logical,” but also those that are based on fear, inertia, and maintaining the status quo. As you listen to the answers your team gives, consider how you can get them to rephrase their concerns or complaints as commitments. For instance, someone may say they don’t like that idea due to the perceived expense, time commitment, or lack of resources. As facilitator, ask “How can you rephrase your answer as a commitment?” They might respond that they are concerned about the team staying on budget, or not extending itself beyond what it can fulfill. These kinds of conversations can help you identify genuine concerns and transform your communications from focusing on complaints to focusing on commitments.  

Asking these questions can help you as a facilitator disrupt group thinking and dig below the surface as you encourage each team member to share their unique perspective. Remember to encourage all players to answer, not just the dominant talkers. When considering big changes or new initiatives as a group, you will probably want to schedule a standalone meeting to discuss all six, or you could ask one or two questions to shake up an existing agenda.

I hope these questions inspire your team to new levels of innovation, problem solving and creativity. Here’s to your team’s pursuit of genius! 

original article published on forbes

4 JAN 2023
About Catherine

About Catherine mattiske

Catherine Mattiske, best known for creating ID9 Intelligent Design and the Genius Quotient (GQ), is a leading light in the corporate learning and team-building industries. She regularly works with large and small organizations to help team members better understand one another while effectively collaborating and boosting individual and team morale and productivity in the workplace.

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