Many people complain that they spend their days in meetings which leaves them working into the night if they want to take any meaningful action. One thing I notice is that whatever length of time is allocated for a meeting, it is all used - or even worse, it overruns: An example of the Peter principle in action- work expands to fill the time available (in a nutshell). Wouldn't it be great if people came into the room, decided what they were there to achieve and agreed to do it in the shortest time possible....? If it took 15 minutes then so be it!
I have been re-reading a few things recently preparing for the Creative Leadership training on 6 June and there has been a little book that has been around since 1985 called SIX THINKING HATS by Edward de Bono. You may not have heard of the book or him but you will certainly have heard of the concept of lateral thinking which he came up with in 1967.
The Six Thinking hats explained another of his concepts - Parallel Thinking. The brain cannot focus on more than one thing at once and decision making involves taking many different factors into account. We can become confused and 'Confusion is the enemy of good thinking.' We can also become wedded to an idea so our ego goes into a meeting and we want to prove we are 'right'. That can get in the way of finding the best solution based on all the facts.
De Bono offers another way, one of structured thinking. Imagine that you go through a process considering different aspects in turn with everyone working towards the same thing - the best outcome. He labels the kind of thinking as 'thinking hats'.
White hat: Neutral and objective - facts and figures
Red hat: The emotional view
Black hat: Cautious and careful - points out the weaknesses in an idea
Yellow hat: Positive - what are the benefits of an idea? Possibilities?
Green hat: Creativity and new ideas
Blue hat: Control, organisation of the thinking process - including the use of the hats
The book explains how to use the hats - for example, you would begin and end with the blue hat thinking to organise the meeting and decide the order of the hats. You may not need to use all of the hats at every meeting. The red hat gives a way to put personal emotions on the table without judgement or explanation. Some people think that there is no place for emotion in a business meeting but I have read that every decision we make is based on emotion.
Personally, I think that something that has been found to reduce meeting time should be considered in every organisation. One example cited was a problem with an oil rig costing $100,000 a day. The 6 Thinking Hats method was brought into the meeting and it was solved in 12 minutes!
Are we really so stuck in our ways that we prefer to complain about back to back meetings rather than CHANGE? Go on....dare to be different!