One of the least efficient processes, and yet largest reservoirs of potential in organizations, is meetings. For the sake of illustration, we’ll divide meetings into two types: information sharing and problem solving. We’ll concern ourselves primarily with the latter. The former – information sharing – can be made to take less time and free up resource with a timed agenda and a moderator. The latter – problem solving meetings – needs a well-thought-through process plan and a facilitator. The best practice is to have that facilitator be someone from outside of the group which is holding that particular meeting. And the best facilitators are informed by the tools and process methods of Creative Problem Solving (or design thinking, which is an iteration of Creative Problem Solving).
Success Tip! Be mindful to select facilitators that have strong innovation leadership skills – or at least an open mind to learning these behaviors. It is also important to make sure that they have the time and energy to be called upon to facilitate meetings. And, for goodness sake, please do yourself and your organization a favor and have them be formally trained as innovation facilitators. Facilitation with a creative intent is a skill that is best learned with a trained coach and lots of practice.
Keep in mind that “problem solving” cuts a wide swath. It might include any combination of the content areas to follow:
-Assuring that all key information is uncovered and understood
-Defining strategy and clarifying goals
-Determining key challenges and root causes
-Generating ideas or choosing among them
-Building project plans
-Exploring new opportunities
Success Tip! For many organizations, simply having a cadre of trained facilitators provides the quick wins they are seeking. So much time is wasted in poorly managed meetings that facilitators provide an immediate ROI simply from time saved. The creative quality of output is where you’ll see the big win, however.
FACILITATION: Real World Examples:
Example One: Because they had a clear pipeline map Centocor, a division of Johnson & Johnson now called Janssen Biotech, was able to see that two promising therapeutic agents were lagging in development. This knowledge allowed for the provision of focused facilitation by trained Creative Problem Solving (CPS) facilitators to get them unstuck and deliver earlier than expected results.
“They were challenged with seemingly impossible roadblocks, and needed some new, creative thinking as a major deadline was approaching. Once again, the CPS facilitators expertly led them to look at problems through different lenses – until actionable solutions emerged. “
-Ruth Dubinski, Strategic Planning, Centocor
Many of our clients now have a group of CPS trained facilitators on call who, while they have “day jobs,” are sometimes tapped to support meetings needing a rapid creative solution.
Example two: One of the largest Concrete Makers in the western hemisphere has experienced tremendous growth. They have established and are continuing to grow an internal core of facilitators drawn from the ranks at their different locations. These facilitators are managers that are so passionate about their work that they self-select into taking on this additional responsibility (see align work with passion above).