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Turn creativity into productivity

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

In the downturn, productivity is everything. Any time spent in the conference room should be efficient and results-oriented. Here are some creative tactics business owners are using—and that you can copy:

1. Brainstorm using crayons and construction paper. Heather Logrippo, publisher of Distinctive Homes, asked employees to find a quiet place for 30 minutes and generate colorful suggestions.

“This was a situation where you couldn’t just google the answer,” she says. “They came out with great ideas.”

2. Spray naysayers. Employees at Dixon Schwabl Advertising use water guns to spray colleagues who make negative remarks at meetings, so naysayers won’t inhibit participation.

3. Allow for anonymity. During meetings at content-management firm Box.net Inc., Jen Grant gives employees seven minutes to anonymously jot down as many thoughts as possible on Post-it notes. When time is up, the suggestions go on a wall for the employees to read and rearrange.

“I tell them to not think about whether the idea is dumb or too costly, which allows them to think as big as they can,” she says.

4. Calculate the time. At Russell Construction, company managers introduced a new device that calculates the average salary of those in attendance and determines exactly how much the meeting is costing the company. It makes employees think twice about wasting valuable time.

5. Think aloud. AscendWorks LLC uses Mindjet Catalyst, a program that allows employees to write out the talking points of a meeting as they are discussed. Employees can easily manipulate the text, organizing it by category and subcategory.

“It’s like thinking out loud, except it’s on a screen,” says AscendWorks President Don Dalrymple.

Adapted from “Boring Meetings? Get Out the Water Guns,” Emily Maltby, The Wall Street Journal.

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