Want to kick off your meeting with “a fun little creativity exercise”? Don’t. Please. You seem nice, so stop now before the love is gone.
Yesterday I was in a meeting that started this way and it reminded me I need to write this letter to all meeting organizers. If you feel the same, you can use my letter too.
Yesterday’s meeting began with an outside consultant brought in to “facilitate the process”. Process? Warning bells started going off in my head. The team that called this meeting is working on a hard problem. They invited a small group of creative thinkers from across the company to this meeting to help. It’s an interesting problem. It’s also a high value problem. I accepted the meeting invite because I want to help this team succeed. I like hard problems. I like helping.
But now this nice lady wants to kick things off with “a fun little creativity exercise”. I look around the room. There are some pretty damn sharp business ninjas assembled here. Serious heavy hitters with Costco family-sized “slam-dunk your problem with a kick-ass creative solution” skills. Is a “creativity exercise” really necessary? Creative problem solving is what these people do. All day, every day. If this was a pick-up basketball game and we’d invited the L.A. Lakers, would this lady feel the need to organize a “fun little basketball exercise” to kick things off? Maybe a quick game of horse to set the mood? Or would she maybe figure Kobe and the boys already have their own exercises and processes along with the experience to know when to apply them? Here’s the rest of my heartfelt love letter to all meeting organizers: