How collective creativity and collaboration produces better meetings

When it comes to exploring and creating new ideas, collaboration is much mightier than the brainpower of any one individual. That is the idea behind room intelligence: the collective intellect of an entire room is more clever and innovative than a solo thinker. This is in fact why we have meetings. Synergistic intelligence leads to more creativity, which produces more possible ideas and solutions. As a result, companies have better meetings and greater overall success.

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard 

Cultivate Room Intelligence 

It is important to obtain room intelligence in order to have effective meetings. That is why capturing room intelligence of one of the ten meeting mantras we follow at Voltage Control. These mantras are the bread and butter of our meeting etiquette, both in-house and during client facilitation. Bringing minds together in an environment that is both productive and focused is a key ingredient in the effective meeting secret sauce, and doing so successfully requires a facilitator

A great facilitator helps to foster room intelligence in order to align and direct the room to efficiently and constructively progress on the project at hand. At the same time, they elevate and maintain team enthusiasm and connectivity. A facilitator has the ability to help teams produce better outcomes by acting as an unbiased third party mediator and guide. They have the unique skill set required to successfully bring a team together and capture its collective intelligence by increasing positivity and engagement and cultivating creativity. 

Foster Creativity to Find Solutions

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” –Phil Jackson 

An important aspect to enhance room intelligence is to nurture overall creativity in each individual team member and the group as a whole. A conscious, active effort to do so is crucial. The majority of jobs today do not require the application of creative thinking in daily work. 

In a study by Richard Florida’s Creative Class, jobs were categorized to identify which required decision making, idea generation, and independent judgment. Almost 60% of U.S. jobs, and 77% worldwide, were found to require little or no inclusion of these three skills. This essentially means that 60% of Americans’ creativity is not being tapped in their jobs. That’s a great deal of unused innovative potential.

Creativity is an ability that we all possess and are capable of expressing. When you encourage and allow creativity, it can come from unexpected places. Oftentimes, those are the best, “winning” ideas. So how do we accomplish this? Follow a process in meetings to get the most out of them.

A common myth about creativity is that a process kills it. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is only true if a process is broken:

“A good process can serve as guardrails to clarify goals (timeline, resources available, and desired outcomes) yet leave the ‘how’ open. The capacity to direct one’s own work enables teams to share responsibility, self-organize, generate ideas, and collaborate.”

A sound process stimulates creative thinking and in turn, more productive meetings. 

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Implement the Design Thinking Process for Better Meetings

The design thinking process is a proven method to encourage creative thought and promote room intelligence. It can be applied in meetings or in dedicated design thinking workshops, which help businesses solve problems and develop a competitive advantage. The process is centered around cultivating creativity and exploring it as a team, including engaging in divergent thinking in beginning stages for idea generation, prototyping, and testing ideas in later stages. As a whole, the process helps teams address and solve the challenges and changes they face. 

Let’s take a look at some examples of the role room intelligence plays in the five stages of the design thinking process:

Phase 1: Empathize

The beginning of the design thinking process starts with understanding the end-users. Who are they? What are their wants and needs and how can you best meet them? The goal in this phase is to identify and empathize with this group to sufficiently understand and serve them. This typically includes taking and gathering observations, interviews, and immersions, which is best accomplished with a collective team effort. The more perspectives and angles you obtain, the more information you have to work within the following stages. Put your heads together!

Phase 2: Define

Once all of the information is acquired, the team hones in on what exactly they want to focus on; which ideas to move forward with. Gathering ideas and input from the entire room is beneficial in this phase, as the objective is to gain clarity about the actual problem you are trying to solve. Sharing and comparing ideas will help the team arrive at the best answer(s) to continue exploring. 

Phase 3: Ideate

With your identified focus, this next ideation phase is centered on all of the potential solutions to resolve the problem. Commence a massive brainstorm session; commence collecting room intelligence. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible. Unleash creativity! Think broadly and consider things that haven’t been done before. 

Phase 4: Prototype

It’s now time to create a physical or digital simulation of your decided upon design so you can show it to people and get feedback. This critical step moves you from ideation into tangible reality. Prototypes give people something to react to, which helps move conversations and the process along. Again, combining the brainpower of everyone in the room to create a prototype is imperative.  

Phase 5: Test

The final step of the design process is to test your prototype on users to collect their feedback and input. Testing allows you to get back to a human-centered focus and ensure you are providing end-users with exactly what they want and need. Once you have the feedback, the team collectively decides if the concept has potential to launch or if refinements and improvements need to be made. 

The entire design thinking process is a collaborative effort, and that’s why it produces such incredible results.  In a Harvard Business Review article, Jeanne Liedtka wrote:

“In a recent seven-year study in which I looked in depth at 50 projects from a range of sectors, including business, health care, and social services, I have seen that another social technology, design thinking, has the potential to do for innovation exactly what TQM did for manufacturing: unleash people’s full creative energies, win their commitment, and radically improve processes.”

Design thinking is not just for designers. More and more companies are being trained in design thinking and hiring facilitators to guide workshops and consult their meeting processes to maximize room intelligence and team efforts and experience more business success. Sales, customer success, engineering, and even procurement teams can work more playfully and intelligently by redesigning the way they meet.

Need help building a better meeting? Bring in a professional facilitator from Voltage Control.

Voltage Control designs and facilitates innovation training, Design Sprints, and design thinking workshops. Please reach out to us at if you want to talk.