The Bioclaris® Method can be easily embedded into a company’s regular problem solving meetings to significantly increase the number and quality of ideas generated by the meeting attendees. All types of problems benefit from Bioclaris®: technical, sales, operations, management, HR, etc.
Once executives and employees start using The Bioclaris® Method, they realize the enormous potential in structuring their interactions with others in a way that takes advantage of how everyone’s mind generates new ideas. This potential already exists—and can be directly tapped through how they structure and interact in their problem solving meetings.
And, they experience their own capacity for generating fresh ideas increasing every time they meet in this manner.
The first step for embedding Bioclaris® is clearly defining the problem in advance of the meeting. The definition should include envisioning what it will be like after the problem is solved, and the metrics for successfully solving it. Here’s the key: agreement on this definition between meeting attendees must happen well before the meeting.
After the problem is defined, the participants are asked to prepare “how they think about the problem” in advance of the meeting. Since it is not traditional to prepare one’s thoughts in this manner, specific guidelines are provided by Bioclaris® to help everyone prepare easily and thoroughly.
The meeting leader asks the attendees keep their preparations private, since it is an important part of our process that each attendee is allowed to tap into their own thought patterns without being influenced by others. The attendees are then asked to send their material to the meeting leader before the meeting so that everyone is equally prepared. Copies are made to distribute in the meeting.
The first segment of the meeting
The meeting takes place in two segments, with the first segment happening the afternoon of one day, and the second segment happening the morning of the next day. At the beginning of both segments, the participants are asked to turn off their phones and put them on the table. Checking email and any other type of tasking or distraction is highly counterproductive for either segment. Laptops are also not allowed.
In the first segment, each participant is asked to present “how s/he thinks about the challenge” and is encouraged to use their preparation notes. During each 5-10 minute presentation, the other participants are asked to take handwritten notes to focus them on learning how the presenter thinks about the challenge. Their goal is to activate new mental pathways based on how each attendee sees the problem. There are specific techniques used to naturally maximize the strength of the new mental pathways being formed.
The first segment does NOT include sharing any solutions. However, each attendee has a uniquely colored sticky pad for capturing any ideas that have occurred to them (one idea per sheet) since the problem definition effort. If solutions occur to them during this meeting they should capture them on a sticky and then return to taking notes.
At the end of the first segment, participants are encouraged to spend that subsequent evening relaxing, and to re-read their notes and the preparation materials before they go to sleep. Relaxation makes them more aware of ideas emerging, and reviewing the notes helps focus their minds on the topic during their sleep.
Again, the participants are instructed to be ready to recognize new ideas when they emerge and to note them down on a colored sticky—one idea per sticky. There is no predictable time or pattern in which these ideas might emerge. If they have no ideas before the second segment starts, that is absolutely fine. Everyone’s mind operates in a unique manner. We do not produce ideas on demand.
The second segment of the meeting
The purpose of the second segment is to share any solution ideas that any participant has had. Each person stands up in front of a large board or blank wall, explains each idea they have captured on a sticky, and then places the sticky under one of the categories that the group has established for ideas. These categories help organize the ideas.
While each person is presenting their solution ideas, the others are asked to listen with the intention of understanding how the presenter is thinking. As additional ideas occur to the listeners, they note them down on their sticky pads.
While the ideas are being presented, a meeting scribe is capturing them all into an online system that will be used for voting on the ideas. This enables the group to efficiently prioritize all of the ideas they generate before the second segment is over. Attendees rarely argue with the priorities generated by the group.
Once all ideas have been presented and captured in the online system, a break is called and each attendee is given the task of cleaning up the ideas in one of the categories. Duplicates are removed, wording is cleaned up, and ideas that have been incorrectly categorized are moved as needed.
The voting is organized by category. Once the voting process begins, discussion can occur before voting to clarify understanding. The voting is anonymous to provide maximum freedom of expression and includes every meeting attendee. The voting results are immediate and the group decides on a cutoff point so that a second round of voting can happen with a smaller subset of ideas, to further refine the priorities.
At the end of all the voting, the group has a small list of ideas that provide a starting point for implementation. Volunteers for implementing the top ideas can be secured at this point (or soon thereafter), and implementation is under way.
Implementation and continued idea capture
The online system helps the group manage implementation, flesh out detailed steps needed to implement, and provide awareness about and support for any barriers to implementation that arise. Note that Bioclaris® structured meetings can be called when implementation barriers persist.
As ideas are successfully implemented, additional ideas can be selected for implementation. They are drawn from the prioritized list of ideas that was generated in the two meetings just described. Additional ideas continue to be captured in the system and are periodically voted on. These ideas are also candidates for implementation.