Confide in critics: Can negativity actually be positive in group meetings?23 Apr 2015
Business problems will often be best solved if a number of parties get together and thrash out a solution. Even the most outstanding individuals can soon hit a brick wall if they try and do everything themselves.
Being able to extract the best from everyone else is at the core of any set of essential leadership skills, and a brainstorming session can be perfect in unlocking this. Despite that fact, there is one big flaw in the process which can make it redundant: the idea such situations should not involve a touch of the negative.
Research from the University of Washington in the US suggests that criticism can stifle innovation and creativity in group meetings. However, this isn’t actually the case. It may sound detrimental, but not applying at least a slightly critical approach can lead to the wrong conclusions being drawn.
At the end of the day, if the team agrees on everything being said then it can be much harder to dig deeper into any insights and find their real value.
So, what can be done to break this cycle and encourage more targeted creativity?
A study carried out by the University of California and cited by Forbes suggests that encouraging scrutiny during a meeting or brainstorming session can actually deliver better results.
In the research, teams of people who were asked to be constructively critical of each other’s ideas ultimately produced solutions that were 20 per cent more creative.
Despite appearing to be counter-intuitive, encouraging each member of the team involved in a brainstorming session to think for themselves can prove fruitful.
Outline the objective at the beginning of the meeting, and then have a period of time in which people can quietly think on the problem individually. Towards the end of the session, bring all of the ideas together.
This can provide a more targeted solution and eliminates much of the need for people to talk over each over, and merely make suggestions for the sake of it.
Brainstorming and group meetings can be great tools, but only when the old adages are cast to one side and the concept of producing the most useful insights is embraced.