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How to Hold a Team Mastermind Problem Solving Meeting

How to Hold a Team Mastermind Problem Solving Meeting

by | Aug 15, 2019 | By Karin Hurt and David Dye, Courageous Cultures |

Nothing beats a great mastermind group to challenge your thinking, spark new ideas, and help you grow.

Most of the time, we think of these mastermind groups as people from different organizations with similar levels of ambition and experience who meet to share ideas and support one another.

What if you could use a similar approach to spark innovative thinking and problem solving within your own team?

4 Steps to Holding a Team Mastermind Problem Solving Meeting

We recently helped a leader from a well-known tech giant design a mastermind problem-solving session for her leadership offsite. It worked so well we thought you might also like to try the approach.

It works like this:

Every team member brings a strategic business challenge they’re wrestling with and pitches it to the group for ideas. Everyone gets an opportunity to share their challenge and explain why it’s hard, what they’ve tried, and where they need some ideas. Once they’ve explained the challenge the other members of the team ask additional probing questions and share their best ideas.

This works particularly well to build trust and teamwork in diverse teams that don’t have a lot of natural interdependencies. Or teams that tend to operate in silos and not rely on one another for support.

1. Start by introducing the concept and the ground rules.

This is best done live (in a meeting or conference call), so you can generate excitement and answer questions.

Establish the parameters (e.g. the type of challenge, how long each person will have.) Have some sample challenges in mind, so people can get a sense of what you are looking for. For example, one parameter might be: the problem you’re looking to solve must have a measurable business impact within the next six months.

We highly recommend that you lead the way by having the challenge you plan to bring to the mastermind to use as an example.

2. Set up the structure.

If you have a large team, you’ll want to do this in multiple sessions. Having more than six people share will feel overwhelming.

Each team member gets 5 minutes to explain their challenge. These sentence starters will help streamline the set up:

  • My challenge is _________.
  • It’s important to the business because _____.
  • Success looks like __________.
  • It’s hard because _______.
  • I’ve already tried_________.
  • I could really use your thoughts on  _______.

After each person presents their challenge the rest of the team has 15-25 minutes (you pick the length and ensure everyone gets the same amount) to share their best ideas.

This is intended to be a rapid-fire brainstorming where the recipient takes it all in. It works best when recipients commit to not argue with what is shared, but just ask questions to help expand or deepen understanding. Of course, the best ideas can be explored further with their teammates after the meeting.

3. Select a timekeeper.

You’ll want to use a timer and have a designated person to keep things on track. It can be tempting to spend all the time defining the challenge.

4. Debrief the process.

Ask your team what they found helpful and challenging about the process. And explore other ways they can share ideas and help one another solve problems formally and informally going forward.

Your turn. 

As we continue our research and writing toward our next book on Courageous Cultures, we would love to hear your best practices for building teams of micro-innovators, problem-solvers, and customer-advocates. Would love your ideas in the comments, or reach out to us at [email protected]


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Karin Hurt and David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results. As CEO and President of Let’s Grow Leaders, they are known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. Karin and David are the award-winning authors of five books including, Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive and elected official. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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