The 2 enemies of innovation


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When a group of people come together to make a decision, to plan a strategy or to start a project, sometimes the inevitable happens. The loud voices take over and egos get in the way of valuable and productive conversations. This week I was asked about how to cope in these situations and how to intervene without feeling like you are overstepping the mark. I believe the answer lies in effective facilitation. Guiding an organised conversation or process that will give you the result you want, and enable everybody to contribute without the need for dominance.

“So we have started to have some of our first meetings for next year except I find it very difficult because everyone wants to be heard. Most people on our council have a big personality and want their ideas to be heard so it ends up just being people shouting suggestions over the top of each other. I end up then just trying to take a step back because there are already so many loud people. Also I feel bad because there are many people missing out on their say because they can’t get a word in.

…How do I help fix the problem without overstepping my welcome??”

This is a challenge that stops many teams working together effectively. Here are two suggestions I made…


1) Egos – It’s about the idea, not who said it.

You are a team of people, so you need to be able to work together. Not compete for who’s idea is best.

When you have 20 leaders in one room, fighting for attention it can quickly turn into a battle of ego’s and who can shout the loudest. Some people will be trying to prove something to other people or prove something to themselves. Either way, it’s not helpful for the group.

Bring people back to understanding you are a team. And the solution or idea will come because of the collective effort. It’s more important how good it is, rather than who takes the credit.


2) Loud Voices – You are there to solve a problem for people

Make sure you are clear about why you are there. The one who shouts loudest is often not the one to listen to!

It’s easy for people to get carried away with wanting a chance to shine. Empathy and focus are two important words to remember. Focus on what you are wanting to achieve and connect to the people or situation you are there to help.


Some extra facilitation tips

If you choose to facilitate the conversation, here are a couple of things to remember…

  1. Make it clear your role is to facilitate and guide the conversation. It’s not about you, but you are there to guide the process and make sure everyone has a chance to contribute.
  1. With large groups, think about breaking people up into sub teams. This can make use of time a lot more effectively and give more people a chance to input ideas. Bringing the group together at the start and the end of sessions is always important for group alignment
  1. Another useful approach is to write things down and using a flip chart as a central point can act as a vehicle to align everyone’s thoughts. This helps people clarify exactly what the ideas are and stops a lot of unnecessary talking. Whilst at the same time it’s a great way to allow the quitter members to contribute.

Hope that helps 🙂

Have you been in situations where big personalities get all the limelight?
How do you help fix the problem without overstepping your welcome??

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