Let staff have their best ideas in the bath – not in meetings.

There can’t be many people in business that haven’t sighed in despair at the thought of another ‘workshop’. Some manager somewhere has to come up with a plan or idea, and they think that the best way to do this to put some clever brains in a room for far too long, and tell them to come up with brilliance.

There is a reason that school lessons are only 40 minutes. That’s as long as we can concentrate effectively. Some say we’re only useful for 20 minutes.

We all know that we have our best ideas in the shower – so why do we ask our staff to have theirs in meetings.

So how does anyone think that shutting away their team for several hours (or even, oh help us, a whole day) will cause them to be at their most creative?

If you’ve ever seen someone coming up with brilliance, it’s not usually at 2.30pm in a meeting room after a whole day of being talked at.

When I have a poser of a problem to solve, or particularly creative solutions are required, I tell my staff about it.  Before my fashion business I was an IT manager, and am an Interim Manager now, so my staff are usually engineers.

I tell them what the situation is and not to give me a solution. I tell them that I want the solution in a few days time. This takes the pressure off them and allows them to think clearly, at their own pace, thinking it through and in their own most creative time (shower, gardening, driving etc).

Many times, an initial negative reaction (which I ignored) became a creative solution three days later. Because it wasn’t rushed, the idea has been thought through properly, rather than being impulsive.

Can we learn to give people more time to think about solutions in their own time? Wouldn’t it be nice if no-one dreaded meetings and workshops? Wouldn’t it be nice to have your staff rushing up to you excitedly because they’ve come up with a great idea?

It is nice. It’s great to see people enjoying their work, and not hating meetings. Try it.