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Lance Lie
  • Lance Lie
  • Huntington Beach, CA
  • United States

Sr. Technical Support Engineer II, Aerospace

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Hold meetings outside the office, like at a restaurant or coffee shop to inspire the the thought process for new ideas.

I was inspired by Nilofer Merchant's idea of holding a meeting while taking a walk. Holding a meeting somewhere outside the office will inspire the thought process of those individuals due to the being in new surroundings, seeing how others interact or mother nature herself. Business men have been holding sales calls while golfing for a very long time, so why not use the same process and hold a small meeting at a coffee shop or restaurant overlooking the beach or some other interesting or inspiring place.
We have meetings every day in conference rooms or over the web while in our office, but how can one be stimulated while starring at the same walls day in and day out.

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    Aug 6 2013: I noticed, that there is no lack of ideas at all. People are pretty creative, all over the place. But what kills this attitude is the 'day in and day out walls' within companies in their decision making processes, where 'accounting' and 'efficiency' took over many many years ago.

    There is this wide spread tendency to make things 'cheaper', not better, short living, instead of long lasting. Across all companies I worked for within the technology sector, the loudest call for 'creative ideas' was to make the process cheaper, never to make the product better...

    And even superior ideas got stopped, because they came with a need for 'change'. Change of processes, change of machines, change of 'thinking'...

    The Aerospace sector may still have the luxury not to be that much under 'price pressure'... I hope ... yet anything else is ...

    Many people are sensitive about their ideas and they do have the sense to know if its worth to mention them within their company or not. Its this 'inner censorship' you can only overcome if you have an creative environment throughout the whole company, not just in the R&D departments (if you are lucky).

    Otherwise it just doesn't matter where you have your coffee ...
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    Aug 12 2013: Lance, There has been all sorts of studies. The trick is to find what works for you and your staff. I worked in Research and Development and had a work plan for my shop. The first two hours were fairly productive and the next hour may or may not show gain. Lunch for one hour. Then we had gym / exercise of your choice for one hour. Upon return we did updates and brainstorming. The last two hours were productive. I found that the physical exercise was the key to waking everyone up ... a workout and shower seems to work best for our group.

    The other thing to consider is who is at the meeting. Brass inhibits free thought. I found that one step difference is ideal and everyone contributes and is not afraid to disagree ... still had some suck ups but thats normal.

    Businesses are for profit ... having a meeting at the local pub ... restaurant ... lends for your strategy and concepts being put out on the street. A industrial spy dream. I would arrange to have a boyfriend / girlfriend of one of your staff and they would tell me where and when. Sorry can't have lunch with you today we have a working lunch at IHOP. I would be one step ahead of you all of the time.

    Best to keep things in house. Be inventive. Be interactive. Challenge the staff. Be sure to give "team" credit.

    Be well. Bob.
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    Aug 11 2013: I heard a story about a CEO whole goes on a trip when he has an important dicision to make. And while he's abroad, he carefully thinks about it and it helps him make good decisions. I agree that, by changing the surrundings, we can get new ideas. However, I'm afraid that it may go too informal. Do you think extremely important meetings should also be held in a coffee shop? What is the boundary between new ideas and not being serious?
  • Aug 6 2013: Yes, office picnics in the park! Like it!
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    Aug 6 2013: Lance, I completely agree with you (and with Nilofer Merchant also). These are, in my opinion, very good ways to pop up new ideas. Talking while taking a walk or at a new outdoors scene is inspiring (if you're prepared and minded to). I've tested it succesfully.
    Good idea. The problem could be boss' opinions, sometimes.
  • Aug 5 2013: At DEC (Digital Equipment Corp) the important meetings were held in the woods - usually at a undisclosed location which only certain aids knew how to get to us. We also had a week where the senior engineers would take over Stranton Mountain Ski lodge for a week. No phone, no tv, just discussing technical issues all day and usually late into the night. I loved it but DEC got to big and the number of senior engineers was too great. Also when it started there were no managers allowed except that Ken Olsen and Gordon Bell would give a talks at Dinner.

    You might want to look at a study that I think Dr Roberts did on communication. The study found that if you had to go up/down 1 flight of stairs or go around 3 corners, the people might as well be in different bldgs miles apart.