Bored with meetings? Try a blitz

Meetings are a must in every company, but they are anathema to the creativity and productivity that leaders crave.

So, how about a “Blitz” – a meeting that in 15 minutes canvasses as many as 54 ideas, sorts and evaluates them, and then turns the best ones into action?

The Blitz is the brainchild of Dr Ken Hudson, founder of Sydney-based consulting company, SpeedThinking. After a decade in management consulting, Hudson noticed that the less time he gave leaders to make decisions, the more creative they became. Their ideas came faster, and were better. “Initially, I came up the idea of ‘speed meetings’ but it wasn’t enough,” Hudson says. “But people told me, ‘You are just telling us to go faster doing the same crap work’. I went back to the drawing board.”

Hudson put more structure into the process for making the Blitz successful:

  • Meetings should be no more than 15 minutes long
  • as few as two people, but not more than six
  • anyone who wants to help solve the problem can join the Blitz
  • anyone can call a Blitz (they are the leader, regardless of seniority)
  • solve one problem per Blitz
  • structure the Blitz in five stages: start, build, connect, evaluate, action.

Hudson began a pilot of the process late last year, working with a global hotel chain, a national logistics company and a national women’s fashion chain. “[The hotel chain] asked ‘How do we encourage team members to take better care of hotel property?’,” Hudson says. “Then they tackled, ‘How do we improve our gym’s customer’s satisfaction score?’.”

The logistics company wanted a short, sharp tagline to promote an intranet that provided its staff with instant answers that would save them time. Their solution: “With ICS Self Service, you no longer have to wait in line. With ICS Self Service you can do it your way!”

Implementing the Blitz requires a change in attitude, Hudson says. “One of the big fears is that no one turns up. But you can run a meeting with as few as two people. Some people are quite spontaneous about it; others build it into the meeting request format. People are also doing a hybrid of selecting some people and leaving some spots for volunteers.” The cost for medium to large companies of getting Hudson to implement the process is between $10,000 and $20,000.

The Blitz cannot replace every meeting – board meetings, strategy and brainstorming sessions still have their place—but speeds up solving day-to-day problems that need quick solutions that are still well thought through, Hudson says. “We say if you have the same people looking at the same problem in the same way, you are going to get the same answer.”

There is a side benefit to the Blitz. “American research shows that quick-thinking gives an instant lift in mood,” Hudson says. Evaluation of the pilot study shows the same effect, as well as less time in meetings, more efficient groups, more creative and original solutions and identifying new talent. “Leaders like them because some people are pigeon-holed in their roles, but it may work out that the customer service guy actually has a flair for marketing.”

Hudson’s next step is to turn the Blitz process into a software product.

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