Regular company meetings can get repetitive when the same projects and agenda items are discussed, week in and week out. However, every once in awhile, in between the endless monotonous conversations, a magical moment occurs when someone shares a truly inspiring idea.
It could be the start of a new product, a solution to a cost issue, or the basis for improving the customer experience. Employees have often been the source of some incredible ideas, including everything from Post-It Notes to the Facebook “like” button. Ideas like that could be percolating right now within your organization.
The problem is you may never know it. If the person charged with taking notes from a meeting drops the ball, that game-changing idea can get lost in the shuffle.
Don’t let that creative opportunity go untapped. Here are three ways to keep a great idea in play, so that it can reach its full potential:
Use and share a virtual wall note system.
Virtual wall note systems let you create, share and organize notes between team members. For example, GoWall is a platform that lets you stick “virtual” sticky notes on a shared online wall that all attendees can see.
According to Leigh Thompson, Kellogg School of Management’s Professor of Dispute Resolution & Organizations at the at Northwestern University, leaders can raise meeting engagement levels by giving every participant a voice, even those introverts who prefer staying out of the limelight. For those types of meeting participants, Thompson employs something called “brainwriting,” a process that utilizes written thoughts, instead of spoken ones.
You can use other tools to record and preserve thoughts and ideas in writing. For example, Quip offers a digital notebook that lets you record and then share written brainstorm sessions with team members. Use it to jot down the idea itself, how it can be used in the company, and how it can be implemented. Technology like the Quip notebook lets you create and save great ideas for the team’s use long after the meeting ends, so you can explore these ideas later.
The notes will provide a summary the proposal and the resulting discussion. This way, team members who weren’t there can review and contribute to the discussion of that idea, keeping it alive and potentially moving it forward to the next stage of development.
Stop appointing a (human) notetaker to transcribe the meeting.
No matter how skilled they might be at transcription, a human notetaker is just that — human. They can miss critical information or make mistakes in capturing what was said. There’s also the time factor; a team member who’s been asked to transcribe the meeting may have to delay it in order to perform their assigned work.
Rather than shouldering these risks, why not use meeting technology that provides automatic transcription services? Since no one has to make time to transcribe, the information is more likely to be circulated more quickly among the meeting participants.
Moreover, it’s possible to return to the recording, as you can do with Voicera. You can pinpoint the moment when the idea was originally shared to get a better sense of the surrounding context. This section can then be clipped from the transcript and shared with other key decision-makers to help motivate action.
Additionally, using technology to automate the transcription process saves money and improves productivity, as it frees the team up to work on more critical assignments.
Include the meeting idea in follow-up with the team.
When your company schedules regular meetings, including formal and informal follow-up meetings, treat subsequent meetings as an opportunity to return to the initial idea and explore it further.
Of course, merely mentioning the idea again might not be sufficient to maintain forward momentum. In preparing for the next meeting, collect input from other team members on how they think this idea can be implemented and how it might benefit the company and its stakeholders. Look for available research that can justify shepherding this idea from a suggestion into a viable strategy or tactic for the company.
A tool like Basecamp helps facilitate meeting preparation with tools that aid sharing notes and ideas, such as a message board. Here, each team member can post their findings, then use that information to generate a report for the upcoming meeting. From there, the initial idea and the research developed around it can transform into an action item or project.
Get More Ideas
To encourage creativity, encourage discussions that focus on brainstorming or that request formal suggestions as part of the agenda. Continually emphasize the value of sharing ideas by offering incentives and recognizing team members who have contributed an idea that benefit the company.
Finally, develop a culture that rewards innovation, where both extroverts and introverts feel comfortable speaking up during meetings. If you can stoke the creative fires, use technology to exchange and archive helpful written notes, and follow up on ideas quickly, you can help keep those miracle ideas alive and moving forward. As an added bonus, it reinforces for employees the belief that your company rewards shared ideas, which keeps those ideas coming.