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June 17, 2014

Down the Rabbit Hole: Balancing Imagination and Action in Meetings

Brett Cheloff
General Manager, LabTech Software
ConnectWise, Inc.
How To Have Productive Meetings | Red Light & Green Light Meetings

Unproductive meetings waste everyone’s time. Although all meetings vary, they should all include a useful takeaway for participants. If your meetings revolve around ignored ideas, colleagues being dismissed before they can explain their thoughts, or topics spinning out of control, it’s time to rethink your meeting strategy. Green light and red light structures can help turn your meetings into efficient and productive business tools.

Green Light Meetings have one main goal: brainstorming solutions. They should encourage open idea sharing so your team can build solutions together using a variety of perspectives. Promoting a criticism-free, all-thoughts-welcome environment inspires creativity and emboldens everyone to participate.

Red Light Meetings can have multiple goals, including making decisions, prioritizing initiatives, or operationalizing a solution. These meetings typically take a look at one or two premeditated ideas layer by layer in order to choose which concept will best solve the problem at hand. Constructive criticism in red light meetings is welcome and new ideas should be kept to a minimum.

Differentiating these two meeting types prevents ideas from being overlooked or immediately rejected while similarly preventing approval meetings from running out of control. Businesses tend to lean toward red light meetings, increasing hair-trigger judgments and driving green light meetings towards extinction. The absence of green light meetings can cause red light meetings to turn into distracted, idea laden messes.

When experiencing any problem in your business, instead of attempting to control the situation rigidly, run a green light meeting instead. Choose a moderator who can control the room and guide attendees towards imaginative solutions. Have someone else record all thoughts produced during the discussion and then have those thoughts sent out for further consideration. Finally, and most importantly, assign an owner to analyze all of the ideas. This owner will prepare for the red light meeting that will decide which innovative ideas will be implemented.

Keep in mind that meetings will often have a mixture of green and red light conversations. It’s pivotal to clarify which is which so your attendees know whether or not they can pursue a train of thought to its conclusion. And remember, you can always table a discussion and have an action item to continue it later.

Good luck and happy meetings!

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Brett Cheloff General Manager, LabTech Software
ConnectWise, Inc.

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