How to spark an Electric Conversation
A powerful way to facilitate more creative team meetings
Have you ever been in a conversation that takes on a life of its own? You lose track of time and become completely engrossed? Sometimes, it even makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end? In my first book The Spark I coined a phrase for these special interactions that has chimed with a lot of business people: Electric Conversations.
Plugging in the mains
After years of working with management teams in creative companies on leadership and change, I noticed an important skill that separates inspiring leaders from the rest: they facilitate meetings in which Electric Conversations are encouraged.
You’ll have experienced an Electric Conversation. They often precede important decisions and change in your life. Sadly, they’re often stifled at work. People clam up because they’re scared of sounding stupid – especially when the boss is the room. This kills off any hope of innovation.
Allowing creative discussions to flow couldn’t be more important to your business; these conversations are behind every profit-making idea you’ll ever have. They lead to that most precious of commodities: new ideas. Ideas change your future. Electric Conversations allow ideas to develop in the spaces between people.
You can tell when you’re having an Electric Conversation because they are:
Idea-Driven: Not focussed on hierarchy – all about the idea.
Brave: Constructive conflict is part of it – and the potential for failure takes courage.
Passionate: It’s not possible to be creative without caring.
Playful: No assumption of a “right way” – unpredictable, playful and fun.
Purposeful: The team can disagree – but share values and an inspiring purpose.
If you want to start some Electric Conversations here’s how:
- Find a Challenging Question: Think of one of the biggest or most intriguing questions facing your business. Something that makes you scared and hopeful all at the same time. Some examples: How could we improve our products to embarrass the competition? What are we really good at – AND really bad at (but have been too scared to admit it?) What new technology do we need to exploit before it makes us irrelevant?
- Pick a Diverse Team: Invite a group of people to a no-holds barred creative conversation – be careful to select them from all levels and all parts of your team or business.
- Drop Hierarchy: Make it clear you are all there “on the same level”. Listen more than you speak. Facilitate a flowing discussion where all are involved and then summarise what was achieved. This is a golden opportunity for you to demonstrate what an Electric Conversation should look, sound and feel like.
- Observe Carefully: Use your eyes, ears and instincts to make sure the conversation embodies the Electric Conversation characteristics listed above.
This blog is an adapted extract from The Spark, How to Ignite and Lead Business Creativity (FT Publishing).
Copyright © 2014 Greg Orme All Rights Reserved