Just Breathe

Conference room air and thinking outside the boardroom

Recently the New York Times featured an article called “Is Conference Room Air Making You Dumber?” featuring a small selection of studies which suggest that the stale air in many corporate conference rooms may lead to stale thinking – in more ways than one. It’s an intriguing question: the conference room is a daily destination for many knowledge workers and executives. Could the decisions in those rooms be affected by something so banal as rising C02? And if so, what should we do about it?

While the article ended saying that results are inconclusive, it made one thing abundantly clear: there’s no room for stale thinking in modern business. As ideation and strategy experts, TRAFFIK are often called on to help our clients move past a pattern of behavior that is producing diminishing returns. Here are 3 practical changes we encourage our team and our clients to take to get some fresh oxygen flowing in their company’s brain trust.

1. Change your conversation partner
If your company has been having the same conversation for weeks, months or even years, without producing any initiatives that move the needle, it’s time to shake up who is involved in the conversation. If your Marketing team can’t figure out why a campaign underperformed, ask an analyst or engineer for their perspective. If Operations needs a breakthrough in updating policies for a complex new phase of your organization’s journey, try having people on the front lines weigh in. Agency partners are tailor-made for this part of the conversation – our team are trained in holding workshops and guiding challenging conversations that help push beyond easy answers to new insights. If you’re stuck in your own head trying to solve a problem, find a different perspective through a new conversation partner.

2. Change the scenery
Whatever the science concludes, many professionals can identify times where getting up and moving, getting outside, or getting offsite led to a breakthrough in thinking, both individually and organizationally. Companies may want to set a goal to never have more than 2 meetings with the same people in the same room on any project or topic. Getting out into the real-world applications of your company’s products or services can unlock valuable insights. And sometimes just moving our bodies helps to shake the cobwebs off our thinking. Have that meeting over a brisk walk rather than a conference table.

3. Change the agenda
Many meetings are simply a series of monologues and dialogues. Corporate America’s reliance on group conversations to solve complex business problems ignores what we know about groupthink, distractions, and “loudest-voice-in-the-room” syndrome. TRAFFIK employs a range of brainstorming and deconstruction exercises to push past a team’s original insights on a topic and get into fresh areas of thinking.

Looking to clear the air?
If you’ve got a proposal or problem that isn’t going anywhere, try pulling in a new conversation partner and meeting in a different place. Try having the conversation a different way. We’ve been fortunate to facilitate some of these breakthrough conversations for our clients, and we’d be glad to discuss how we can help you change the conversation as well.