About a month ago I returned from Alan Weiss’ Million Dollar Consulting® Convention. What a great learning incubator, with the opportunity to hear, discuss and reflect upon insights from top-notch consultant colleagues. Not sure if it was the mid-break chats, lunch discussions, evening discussions at the bar or late night brainstorming with my roommates, but my mind started buzzing with all the new possibilities and ideas for growing and developing my own business. I found myself returning with a new zest for the often lonely work of an external consultant.

So imagine how my interest was sparked when the WSJ article “Managers Need to Make Time for Face Time” came out. The article itself focuses on senior level leaders who are primarily road warriors and their recognition of the need to make face time with their direct reports. The several leaders illustrated identified that when they created space for this aspect of their work, they also reaped enormous benefits; employees who were more productive and engaged in their work, broadened knowledge of the business from different perspectives, lines of communication widened, and deeper understanding of how they could support and remove barriers for their direct reports as a whole.

While the article didn’t directly speak to the topic of imagination and creativity, it is an underlying reason for capturing and harnessing some quality face time. Some of the best ideas and solutions to intractable problems arise when you have vastly different perspectives come together to hash out a never before imagined solution. Yes, there are some highly effective electronic group interface tools, but it just takes too much energy to readily argue, challenge, understand word nuances, and eventually agree to solutions before moving forward.

So, when you are trying to figure out if this is a worthy time for you to bring a group of people together, examine what the need is for the meeting. Some quick tips for when you need to bring people together for maximum face time effectiveness:

  • Coalescing a new group of people. If people that have not met before are going to need to work together to support each other, bring them together initially to get to know each other and learn the different personalities and perspectives.
  • Increasing group engagement and connection. Often a group has met for quite a long time, have gotten used to each other, and they need to deepen their individual and collective understanding of each other.
  • Re-energizing people about an upcoming piece of work or project. Whether as a group or 1:1, people feed off each other and sharing input. New idea generation, learning what others are doing, and getting the opportunity to discuss nuances can up the zest for the work ahead.
  • For topics that are highly enflamed or have multiple perspectives that need to be shared, discussed, internalized and action taken.
  • Sensitive sharing of information or feedback that you want to increase the meaning and impact of for others.

We live in a world that has increased our connectedness through technology, yet at the same time has seriously undermined our creativity because of imposed isolation. Leaders everywhere must realize that to keep the spark of creativity alive, it has to be nurtured, cultivated and flamed into a raging inferno.