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  • Writer's pictureRich Haglund

Unlock thinking and welcome more perspectives by starting meetings with writing

Would you like to hear from individuals who rarely speak up in meetings? Have you ever sensed some attendees weren't telling you how they really felt about an issue? Or have the solutions the group devised not reflected the combined wisdom and creativity of the whole group?

Author Alison Jones, in a recent conversation with Greg McKeown, recommended a six minute writing sprint at the beginning of meetings. She suggests a process like this:

  1. Give attendees a prompt or question. e.g., How might we accomplish [name a daunting task]? What do you think about [name an issue]? What ideas do you have for overcoming [name an obstacle]?

  2. Allow everyone to write down any thoughts (or images) that come to mind during the next six minutes.

  3. Then, give them an additional three to five minutes to review what they've written and formulate ideas to share.

Jones explained that this approach can

  • Reduce groupthink since initial contributions don't immediately anchor everyone else's thinking,

  • Allow people to see their own ideas,

  • Give those whose first language might not be English a chance to write and formulate in their own language, and

  • Invite frequent contributors to slow down and organize their ideas before blurting them out!

What meetings do you have coming up where you could try this out? If you aren't the leader of the meeting, how could you propose the idea to the person who is? And, once you try it out, how can you help make the practice a habit in your organization?

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