“I know you have a certain way you set up for your pizza meeting. But your pizza meetings COULD BE DIFFERENT.”

What’s a “pizza meeting,” and what does it have to do with creative thinking?


Back in the Fortune 500 days, we facilitated so many strategic planning workshop sessions we gave up renting creativity-oriented offsite locations. We’d make creative thinking happen wherever we could find a large enough meeting room at one of our headquarters locations.

At one HQ in Akron, OH, we sometimes wound up in its “multipurpose room. “ The multipurpose room had many windows, which is usually great.

The problem was the multipurpose room was situated in the middle of the basement. The multipurpose room windows looked out over cubes of people working in the pricing and accounting departments.

Yes, the windows looked out over the rest of the basement.

To do SOMETHING to make the space a little creative, we’d arrange the tables and chairs every which way. ANYTHING to take peoples’ minds off being stuck in the middle of the basement in a room with windows that ALSO looked out on a men’s restroom with the ugliest lime green color scheme of any bathroom in the world.

After one half-day workshop in the multipurpose room, we were getting ready to leave. As we were wrapping up, the next group came in for their lunch meeting. They looked in horror at the haphazard arrangement of tables and chairs and asked what had happened. I explained the arrangement was intended to put people into new positions and arrangements, stimulating creativity.

They immediately began scrambling to arrange the tables and chairs in an orderly fashion, telling us, “We always have the chairs in a U-shape for our pizza meeting.”

Heaven Forbid Your Pizza Meeting Would Look Differently!

Because of their over-the-top conviction about how they wanted their tables arranged for the pizza meeting, I’ve never forgotten this exchange.

Whenever someone says something about something meaningless HAVING TO BE a certain way, I always think it must be for a “pizza meeting.”

In fact, I had a conversation just the other day with somebody who was discussing a project they were working on that had to be a certain way. The certain way, however, was a way completely of their own design. Other than having pride of design, there was nobody else with any expectation of the certain way the project had to be.

What are my pizza meetings? What are your pizza meetings?

The thing is, as much as we might hate to admit it, WE ALL HAVE OUR PIZZA MEETINGS.

Yup, that’s a dirty little secret of creative thinking.


We all have things we think HAVE TO BE A CERTAIN WAY, even though they could be nearly ANY WAY, and they would still work fine. Maybe things would work even better if we tried something different.

Yes, that’s VERY POSSIBLE . . . things could be better if your pizza meeting were different.

Always be on the look out for your creative thinking weak spots.

That’s where your PIZZA MEETINGS will be hiding in full view, as you cling to the same old ways of doing things YOU decided, even though they DON’T REALLY MATTER AT ALL. - Mike Brown

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