Rule #1 – Ideas can come from anywhere. Attendees are there for a reason, because they can add value–knowledge, expertise, or stakeholder value.
Rule #2 – Act on facts, research hunches. Force participants to back up their statements with reliable evidence before making a play on their input. Slate hunches for background research.
Rule #3 – Stay focused on the agenda item at hand. Establish talking points ahead, set the agenda and guide people back when the conversation strays.
Example Agenda Outline:
II. Statement of problem
III. Ground rules
IV. Problem Discussion – 15 minutes
V. Solution Discussion – 30-45 minutes
VI. Action Items
Facilitate Solution Discussion:
1. Open – Write down all ideas and all reliable evidence to support each idea
2. Narrow – Debate. Vet ideas for solvency and doability.
3. Close – Rank and prioritize the next best play.
Rule #4 – No Distractions. Send a signal to side talkers by standing in between them. Invite participants to turn their phones back on after the meeting, no electronic note taking, checking emails etc. This means the meeting should be relevant and adding value to all invited. If that is not the case, invite them to engage in a more valuable activity. Really.
Rule #5 – Co-authored and unique to organizational culture. For example, no one bring a topic that seems to always come up and is not constructive in nature.