Leave Your Credentials at the Door

redentials are a powerful thing. So much so that they can get in the way. The next time you participate in a group discussion, try asking everybody to leave their credentials at the door before getting started. It'll make for a more open and meaningful conversation.

Each month I ask a group of 20 or so businesspeople to get together for House of Genius. The purpose of the event is to give three entrepreneurs an opportunity to ask for help on a particular problem that each is facing.

The idea is to tap into the group's collective genius after a short presentation by the entrepreneur. A critical ingredient in the House of Genius secret sauce is to limit introductions to first names with no discussions about job titles or experience until the very end of the evening.


"The process and approach worked brilliantly – I thought the amount and type of feedback the three presenters got was at the high end of the spectrum for any other group feedback session I’ve ever been involved in."

Brad Feld on a recent House of Genius event, Great Events - House of Genius

By maintaining an element of anonymity we're able to minimize preconceived notions about who knows what. It's a completely different dynamic than traditional meetings beginning with "name, rank, serial number" type of introductions that create a set of expectations before the conversation has even begun.

We also ask that participants avoid qualifying their comments with things like "In my experience with this..." or "I don't know much about this, but...". These types of comments are a different but equally powerful form of credentials.

The next time you're planning to gather a group for a feedback session ask everybody to leave their credentials at the door. You'll find that the discussion gets moving quickly and includes more creativity and honesty than traditional meetings.

Note: House of Genius was born in Boulder but is now in Austin, Singapore, New York City, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Albuquerque, Seattle, Denver, and Reno. More locations are in the works. Let me know if you want an invitation to a House of Genius session here in Boulder or elsewhere.