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Exercise

Keeping Track Of The Energy

When you go to your next meeting, bring a box of colored pencils. Every time somebody says something that gets a reaction in the room, write it down in color.

At the end of the meeting, go back and see how you can work with those ideas to make them doable.

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This may be true when you're working with a hammer and nails, but it isn't true in meetings. The moments when people make breakthroughs-when the right idea just pops into someone's mind-often come when they're relaxing after a period of intense concentration.

If you ask most people when breakthrough ideas have come to them, you'll find that they've been driving, or in the shower, or walking-performing a simple task that keeps part of their brain occupied but frees the 'back part' of their brain to rummage around and dig up new ideas.

So, don't fall into the trap of hammering away at a problem for too long. Make it a regular practice to schedule in 15- minute breaks after you've been working for, say, two or three hours. Outlaw any business talk during the break. Step outside for a breath of fresh air or a walk around the block.

Bring in a yoga instructor who can show you a few asanas that you can do easily in your work clothes.

Sometimes you need to change the texture of your normal work session to get new and better results. Try changing the players involved-besides the usual team members, invite an unusual expert to participate (for instance, an author, a student, or an authority with a differing point of view). The group dynamic will always shift when there is a new presence in the room. Break from whatever your usual meeting procedure is-disrupt the usual patterns. Play word association games; solve puzzles together; put Legos on the table.

Really look at your work environment-chances are it's a completely left-brain-focused space. Conference rooms with straight lines, inconspicuous overhead lighting, colors that don't assert themselves-these are all fine for logical, straight- ahead thinking, but not so conducive to thinking in new ways.

Break away from the usual. Hold your meeting in a different physical environment-a theater stage, a funky loft, or a rec center.

This enemy also shows up as 'the same information, only louder, will get different results.' Ad agencies make this argument to their clients all the time: 'The campaign would work if you put more money behind it.' And sometimes that's true. Other times you've got to change what you're saying, how you're saying it, or where you're saying it in order to get through to someone in a new way. I've also had bosses who seemed to believe that the louder they said the same thing, the better the results they'd get. Not true.

Again, remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.


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