Consider a New Approach to Problem-Solving

April 8, 2016 | Roger and Susie Engelau

What if I told you that one of the greatest secrets to problem-solving is found in getting creative? Sounds like a platitude, doesn’t it?[p]

But as business owners, it’s easy to get quickly absorbed in the day-to-day because we’re so focused on thriving and surviving. We barely have time for well-planned meetings, so how in the world can we plan for creativity that will lead to problem-solving? Even more important, why does creativity even matter—isn’t it enough to just meet with our team members?[p]

Our short answer is no, it isn’t enough to just meet with our team members. We already know that well-planned, regular meetings keep people informed and widen our perspectives. But did you know that a strong, well-run meeting can generate solutions to those problems that are bugging you? Problems like:[p]

  • You have a $50,000 machine that is old and about to break down–do you replace it with the same piece or are there other, less expensive ways of getting that work done?
  • You’re paying a lot of over time—what are some scheduling strategies that will reduce that?
  • You have increasing number of quality or customer service issues—how can you use a group of team members to brainstorm some solutions?[p]

You can use meetings for solving those problems that keep you up at night by making sure that you’re making room for team members to bring their best to the table.[p]

How do we do that?[p]

Sometimes, we might have to consider drastic, out-of-the-box measures. But more often than not, making small (less drastic) changes to the structure and culture of your meetings will still yield some pretty significant results. Here are four easy steps that just might help you solve your company’s biggest problem.[p]

Unleash the Crazy Ones

Great ideas often develop out of bad ideas—just look at Play-Doh or Super Glue, two of the top accidental innovations of all time.[p]

As a business owner, I know how tempting it can be to immediately squash a bad idea, to see it as a precious waste of time—but here’s what I’ve learned through the years: Letting team members talk through those ideas just might lead you to the breakthrough you’ve been looking for.[p]

Hold Your Tongue

Sometimes, our first response isn’t always accurate. We may respond to a new idea out of fear, or we just may not have enough information to provide adequate feedback.[p]

If we evaluate team members’ responses as soon as they are offered, we risk shooting down an idea that could prove to hold an incredible amount of merit further on down the road. Listen to new ideas, and then promise yourself that you’ll think on them long after the meeting is over before you decide to accept or decline.[p]

Get Out of the Way

Want your team to be creative? Then you need to be willing to get out of the way (and accept that you might not always be the one with the greatest idea).[p]

Consider giving your team time to get off-site, allowing them to go where their minds work best. One team member might need a walk through the park. Others might discover their greatest ideas in a coffee shop. The aim is to send team members away with specific goals, letting them go wherever necessary so they can achieve them.[p]

The “What Questions”

Too often, we get into the practice of doing things a certain way because that’s the way it’s always been done and it’s still working. But if we make room to ask ourselves (and others) the essential “What Questions,” we’ll likely discover some incredible ways to improve our processes and our culture.[p]

Here are two of my favorites to get you started:[p]

  • What are we doing now that we can do differently?
  • What if we actually implemented that change?[p]

Building business meetings that also foster creativity can be a difficult process to master, but some of the most successful companies have proven that any time required is worth the pay-off (e.g., Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix).[p]

Try it for a month. You just may see that your 9 AM meeting becomes the most favorite part of your team members’ days.[p]

Do you have other favorite ways to foster creativity in your meetings? I’d love to hear about them. Let’s connect.