Getting a group of people to work together or generate ideas is never a simple task. One of the best ways to get everyone on the same page is to give them only one or two directions to choose from.
Picture: Dennis Crowley/Flickr
The Harvard Business Review explains how trying to get a group together to "brainstorm" without a clear focus can lead to going in circles. Give them a clear goal to work towards, however, and the teamwork can start flowing:
Open brainstorming sessions with lofty goals like generating "500 New Ideas" are fine in theory, but in practice they are often ineffective and inefficient. "You end up with a lot of stuff that's not relevant," says Wedell-Wedellsborg. Instead, direct your team's attention toward solving a narrow problem — for example, ways to fix a specific customer issue or to generate 2% cost savings in your division. "Define the task so your team is very clear on what it is trying to accomplish," says Anthony. Management literature tends to associate chaos with creativity but in fact "constraints are the greatest enablers of creativity," he adds.
This trick even works outside of offices. If you're in an indecisive group that can't decide where to eat or what movie to watch, narrowing the choices down to one or two can give people the motivation they need to pick something.
What to Do If Your Team Is in a Rut [Harvard Business Review]