“I’m going to leave the room. When I come back, you will each need to be able to introduce five of your classmates to me.

“You have five minutes, starting now.”

When I’ve taught MBA classes in person, this is frequently how I kick things off at the first meeting of the semester. Sometimes, but not always, I stick my head back in the classroom after a minute or so if I don’t hear robust conversation and yell, “Get talking! You have three more minutes!”

The outcome is the same every time. It’s a breath of energy and fun that kicks off the semester in a wonderful way.

But the action itself is certainly not predictable. And that’s part of why it works.

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Most of the time, most of us like clarity. We seek predictability in those around us; we engineer predictability into our daily routines. Such tendencies are helpful because they can help us be efficient and save our decision-making brain power for matters that truly need it.

But being unpredictable has its place, its time and its value. In particular, being unpredictable or unconventional is helpful when you’re trying to encourage people to think a little bit differently.

For example, consider the last meeting you attended at work.

Was it similar in terms of venue, format or structure as previous ones?

Was it effective?

Were people truly engaged?

Did they ignore their electronic devices?

If not, sometimes a simple unconventional and unpredictable change can shake things up.

Regarding meetings, a few ways to do this might include:

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