Creating Spaces for Maximum Meeting Productivity

Experiential Innovation

Facilitate more creative thinking with some simple changes to your space.

You’re gathered with your team or customers in your conference room, ready for a productive and innovative exchange. But are you sure you’re in the best environment for inspiring great ideas?

The space in which people are working has an impact on their creativity, says growth strategist Bryan Mattimore, co-founder and “chief idea guy” at the Growth Engine Innovation Agency in Norwalk, Connecticut. Through facilitating more than 100 meetings each year, he says there are a number of ways to amp up the creative energy in your meeting space. Try these three ideas.

1. Create an attractive, flexible space

When it’s time to brainstorm, a plain vanilla space with a big table surrounded by chairs just doesn’t cut it. Mattimore isn’t a fan of motivational posters or trite sayings, but he says colors can affect mood, which can have an impact on creativity. Vinyl applications can be an affordable way to add a bit of bold color or interesting graphics to the space.

“Our view as an innovation agency and consultancy is that the more fun, the better,” he says.

2. Add a public whiteboard

When your team has access to a public white board which everyone can see and on which anyone can write, an interesting dynamic takes place, Mattimore says. Record a creative challenge—for example, challenge the team to come up with an idea or solution to a problem—and set a time limit, such as seven to 10 days. Use a typical board or a write-and-erase film that can transform walls or glass surfaces into places for group brainstorming or idea-building.

As team members share their ideas on the board, you’ll see them start to build on each other and improve. The time-sensitive nature encourages team members to share their ideas instead of waiting until they’re “perfect.” Mattimore says this “interactive suggestion box” is a great way to spur collaborative creativity.

3. Use “ideation stations”

Instead of one big conference table, use modular tables that can be broken up into smaller stations. When you have a creative challenge or are seeking new ideas, create smaller stations around the room and assign a creative challenge to each station. Mattimore and his employees break up groups into teams of two and have them visit the various stations and write down their ideas. Teams then rotate around the room, sharing on and building ideas, much like the dynamic that happens on the white boards.

These fresh takes on traditional approaches can get your people thinking in new ways and digging deeper into their creativity, Mattimore says.

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