Meeting "Nay-sayers" Head On

While I was preparing to facilitate a meeting for a client, I came across an interesting sidebar article in the January 2006 edition of The Motivational Manager“Bite your tongue before uttering these creativity-busters.”  This is a list of typical negative comments that you hear in the office or at meetings.

A major portion of the meeting that I am about to facilitate calls for “brainstorming” ideas.  The client is most interested in hearing the ideas that each manager has on a selected topic.  The purpose of a “brainstorming” session is to get as many ideas from as many participants as possible in the allotted time. 

“Brainstorming” sessions are not strategy sessions.  Nor do they call for decisions to be made.  Strategy and decision-making are different types of meeting.  They should be held separate from a “brainstorming” meeting.  What you want to be careful to avoid are the following comments (as written in the article I quoted):

Senior management will never go for it.

That's not how we do things.

Let's think on that for a while.

Be practical.

Let's form a committee to study it.

We can't afford it.

It will be too hard to administer.

If it's that good an idea, why haven't our competitors thought of it?

It doesn't do anything for me.

It sounds good, but …

Have you heard these comments before?  I'm sure that you have.  But … they are not appropriate for a “brainstorming” session.  Each of those comments  might be appropriate in a strategy or decision-making session.  Although I think that the phrase, “That's not how we do things…” should be permanently banned from any business meeting!

I am looking forward to facilitating this meeting.  I think that we will collect a lot of great ideas.  I think that the participants will enjoy throwing out their ideas.  And I am looking forward to helping the client select the ideas that they want to pursue.  It will be fun for all!

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