Archive for March, 2012

Musings on The Right Ambiance… For Love and Meetings, Part 2
March 2, 2012

A few weeks ago I posted 5 Top Tips for designing creative meeting spaces, here are 5 more. And, if you want to learn how I’ve put this into practice in qualitative research, please follow the link at the end to my new article, in QRCA VIEWS.

6 Touchy “toys” bring color, delight, help relieve stress and can inspire

Some people just think better when they are doodling or fiddling with things. When I’m conducting an Innovation Session, I bring along a toy chest of items: pipe cleaners, Play Doh, Nerf like materials, squishy balls, funny glasses, and kaleidoscopes. These are items that I may use in specific creative exercises or just invite people to play with as they choose. I’ll sometimes use them in a research setting and have had great results with populations that are generally not thought of as being particularly creative or communicative. The toys help people relax, and when they are relaxed they let down their guard and are more forthright and candid respondents.

7. Aroma can enhance productivity! Just the way a real estate agent will suggest that a home seller bake bread or cookies to make a home more attractive, you can consciously use aroma for certain effect in a meeting. An orange pricked with cloves might add just a little boost to flagging energy, a diffuser with soothing essential oils like lavender can relax. A vase full of flavors can also bring color and pleasant aroma.

8. Of course you need good food for thought! It’s rather amazing how much food and liquid refreshment can be consumed by an ideating team. Variety is ideal. I make every effort to have “good brain food” that isn’t heavily laden with sugar and fat.

9. Get off campus! Physically moving away from company premises can do so much to improve results and help participants view challenges and opportunities differently. If you have to work at your offices, set clear ground-rules to ensure that typical distractions do not invade your meeting. Collect phones and pagers (or at least have them set to vibrate). In exchange for this distraction-free zone, give participants breaks throughout the day to deal with those emergency office issues.

10. Great space doesn’t have to be expensive. One reason why team meetings are run at home base is to save money. If you can get away, consider alternative venues to high priced conference centers. One type I particularly like working in is a Bed & Breakfast. The article linked below highlights focus groups conducted in such an environment. Other “non traditional” venues include a children’s or science museum, gallery, botanical gardens, ski lodge, golf club house. If a participant is a member you can usually save a lot of money. Recently a few companies have started offering loft spaces and private homes for meetings. They can include catering and audiovisual equipment. I worked recently in a NY loft space and while it wasn’t inexpensive, it more than paid for the quality of the team’s output.

Want more? 

 Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises, 908-237-2246,