Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a client who was looking a fresh and re-invigorated approach to their mission and vision. I love this part of my job because it involves a lot of collaboration, idea generation, and, truth be told, a certain amount of silliness.
After everyone in the room settles into the meeting, and after the goals and objectives are laid out, I encouraged the client to shake things up a little. For example, sitting around a table in a conference room, to me, is not necessarily the most creative way to discover new ways of looking at things. Plus, I know my client well enough to know they would be excited to try something out of the box. So, I told people to get on the floor, under the table.
“Let’s meet under the table for a few minutes,” I said. And meet we did. The change in the group’s attitude was palpable. Everyone was kind of giddy to get under the table and sit together. As the group moved under the table, I said, “We are going to build a fort and it’s in the fort that we’re going to meet.” So we got under the table, I threw a sheet over the table, draping down all around us, and we huddled in. It was like being a kid again, complete with battery-powered lanterns I’d brought from home.
I asked the group in the dim light of the lanterns, “What are we good at?” and passed the lantern to the Operations Manager who was sitting next to me. It was like a talking stick session! With every pass of the lantern, a new idea would be expressed. And so on. When the lantern got back to me, I said, “What makes this place different from other start-ups? Why would people want to buy our product?” and the lantern was passed around again.
Then someone asked if there would be s’mores, cracking us all up.
Shaking up the traditional way of doing things is something I really love to bring to my clients. It is too easy to get stuck in the rut of traditional work styles. I know, for me, I get my best creative juices flowing if I am moving around a room, pacing, flailing my arms about like a muppet. For some it’s getting on the floor as a group, feeling silly together, finding humor in what we do.
As we got up off the floor and grabbed some food and drink to sustain us through the next portion of the meeting (writing down all the great ideas from “the fort”), people were animated, sharing stories of their childhood forts built in living rooms, times spent hanging out sharing secrets with their siblings, and just letting imagination help guide the way.
We spend a lot of time in our heads. I say, why not make it fun? Next stop, root beer floats during a meeting break? Hmmm…