Why meet? Understanding the Function of Meetings in the Collaborative Workplace

October 18, 2016 at 12:01 PM by Elise Keith in meeting design

This post is the second in a series exploring what it takes to for companies to run consistently worthwhile meetings. Posts in this series will become available over the course of the next few months, wrapping up just in time for winter holidays.

  1. Introduction: Creating A Foundation for Changing Your Organization’s Meetings
  2. This post! Meeting Strategy:
    What meetings are for; understanding the function of meetings in the workplace
  3. Meeting Execution: How to plan and run meetings so that they achieve that function
  4. Meeting Cadence: How often and how long to meet to maintain that function
  5. Meeting Design: How to identify and design the specific meetings your business requires
  6. Meeting Performance Maturity: How to evolve meeting performance across the organization

Meeting Strategy: Because people aren't machines.

When we work in collaboration with other people, we have two things we have to take care of to be successful.

The work and the people.


Topics: meeting design

Creating A Foundation for Changing Your Organization’s Meetings

September 26, 2016 at 7:37 PM by Elise Keith in meeting design

Many people are unhappy with how their meetings work. Some of these people try to improve their meetings.

Of those who try to improve their meetings, a few achieve dramatic results.
Sweeping, business-changing, revolutionary improvement.

Others make small gains. One or two meetings run better, but the rest never rise above mediocrity.

The great majority of those who work to improve their meetings experience a momentary burst of effectiveness, which slowly deteriorates. The status quo reasserts, and the energy to change dissipates.


Topics: meeting design

Infographic: How Much Are Inefficient Business Meetings Really Costing You?

September 19, 2016 at 7:15 AM by Patrick Kelly in fun with meetings

More than half of a middle manager’s day is spent in meetings and $37 billion dollars is the very high figure for revenue lost annually due to the time being spent in unproductive meetings.

In fact, in the United States alone, 25 million meetings take place every single day. 

Quick note: the Lucid team's research suggests that the real number is even higher than this! See our numbers here. Regardless of the specific numbers you choose, we agree that there are a LOT of meetings out there that can benefit from these tips.


Topics: fun with meetings

Smarter Meeting Planning: The Process Approach

August 18, 2016 at 7:00 PM by John Keith in meeting technology

How do you go about scheduling a new meeting with a group of people? David Coleman writes about his research into more than 200 meeting scheduling tools in this August, 2016 CMS Wire article, Smarter Meeting Planning Tools Try to Save You the Headache.

One of the biggest hassles with meetings is actually setting the meeting up, with multiple emails flooding inboxes deciding who could meet, what the meeting is about, and forget about trying to pin down one time when everyone can attend.

David asks: "But what if there was a better way?"  In David's analysis, the approaches for scheduling a meeting can be broken down into four main categories:

  1. Publish and subscribe tools
  2. Calendar scheduling enhancements
  3. Resource management tools
  4. Smart meeting tools

The ordering of that list can be viewed as the evolutionary order of technical solutions to the scheduling problem, with the Smart Meeting Tools section capturing the current AI and Bot zeitgeist. There are quite a few good recommendations in each category, and I think there are some interesting capabilities on the horizon in the smart tools area. Read the full post to get a full sense of David's insight into the scheduling challenge.

The article also talks about Lucid Meetings and our alternative approach based on a holistic view of effective meetings from a complete scheduling, execution, and results orientation.


Topics: meeting technology

Run Kaizen Events to Improve Your Business Processes

August 12, 2016 at 3:01 PM by Dan Prock in meeting design

Introducing Dan Prock
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest template designer, Dan Prock. We met Dan through Ingrid Bens, and quickly realized he had specialized expertise that we were missing. Dan Prock helps businesses of all sizes implement lean practices that help eliminate process wastes and improve operations. Read on to learn about lean, kaizen, and how these practices that started in manufacturing are now revolutionizing the services and small business worlds.
— Team Lucid

Massaki Imai, the author of Kaizen, once said:

“The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need. This comes from recognition of a problem. If no problem is recognized, there is no recognition of the need for improvement. Complacency is the archenemy of kaizen.”

Recognizing and Eliminating Problems

In typical organizations, business managers, experts and engineers work to solve problems. “Problems” are typically defined as an issue with a mission-critical system, broken or poor performing machines, buggy software, poor performers, or defects in quality.

Several decades ago, Japanese manufacturers led by Toyota found a way to become competitive on relatively low sales volumes. They did it by turning their attention from just solving the obvious problems towards improving processes overall. The leaders at Toyota learned to harness the intelligence of their people to identify and eliminate “process wastes” – such as delays, rejects, unnecessary motion, over-processing, and extra inventory, for example  using techniques that have since come to be known as “kaizen” and “lean manufacturing”.

Led by master teachers known as the “sensei” and managed by all company leaders, the practice of lean and kaizen enabled Toyota to remain competitive through recessions and quality recalls, and to grow into the world’s largest car company.


Topics: meeting design

What’s New with Lucid Meetings: August 2016

August 10, 2016 at 5:51 PM by Elise Keith in release announcement

One of the fabulous things about building online software is that it makes it possible to quickly make changes based on customer feedback. Here at Lucid, we strive to update the software each week with small changes and fixes, and to release at least one significant improvement every month or two. We’re pretty good about announcing the fancy new features, but we haven’t been as consistent about sharing all those smaller features, updates, and bug fixes that our customers care about.

Let’s fix that, shall we?

Below you’ll find details and screenshots about things that changed for the better in Lucid Meetings over the past few months. Finally, at the end, we’ll share a bit about what we have in the works. For those of you who use Lucid (or who plan to), consider this an invitation to collaborate!


Topics: release announcement

5 Proven Techniques for Better Brainstorming

August 1, 2016 at 5:23 PM by Elise Keith in tips & techniques

Many meetings bring a group together to quickly discover answers and ideas that no one person can find by themselves. Whether we’re working to negotiate the details of a new project, finding a way to tackle a challenging problem, or seeking to define our strategic vision, the pattern is the same; someone poses a question, and the group starts brainstorming answers. Effective brainstorming is essential to nearly every type of business meeting.

Not everyone enjoys traditional brainstorming

Unfortunately, not all questions are created equally. Sometimes the questions asked in a meeting don’t invite meaningful answers. Asking “Everyone good with that?” after dictating a decision isn’t an effective way to surface real concerns or get real commitments. Some questions are too vague, making it unclear what kind of answer to give. Questions like “Do you have any feedback?” result in either polite non-replies (e.g., “Nope, I’m good.”) or long-winded side discussions that don’t necessarily get to the answers the group needs.

Getting great ideas from a group during a meeting can be hard, and for many participants, traditional brainstorming can feel like a painful waste of time.  

First, despite the popularity of brainstorming sessions, we have some evidence that meetings aren’t always the best place to birth new ideas. Ideal or not, however, sometimes a meeting is the only real opportunity we have to explore ideas as a group, so we’d better make it work.

Second, our brains all work differently. Not everyone does their best thinking on-demand. Not every group welcomes new ideas, creating a social imperative to keep any answers within a comfortable range of safe topics. Some people don’t seem to understand the difference between a group meeting and a personal consultation, taking it upon themselves to dominate the meeting by answering all the questions first, loudly, and in great detail.


Topics: tips & techniques

How We Created an Open API and Added 500 New Integrations with Zapier

July 16, 2016 at 8:31 PM by John Keith in meeting technology, release announcement

In our article, What is a meeting management platform?, we start with this statement:

"Lucid Meetings is an online meeting management platform for designing, running, and continuously improving the business meetings that power your organization’s success."

When you declare that you're a platform, you better be able to back that up with some reasonable definition about what that means. In the above support article, we list quite a few properties of a Meeting Management Platform (read about them), including one line about how only a few "platforms" connect to your larger business ecosystem:

Only a few meeting management platforms include ... "Open APIs and extensive business system integrations"

This post is about that one line.

Creating an Open API

An Open API, or perhaps better put, a Public API, is the user interface for software developers seeking to integrate an API-oriented application into other business systems. A Public API (application programming interface) provides documented mechanisms for external software developers to safely observe, measure, and control the application (Lucid Meetings). It's a contract of sorts between the people who create software and the people who would extend that software in new and interesting ways. I love Public APIs.

In the modern age, most web software either provides or makes use of internal APIs for connecting the core software pieces to one another. Lucid Meetings certainly does. But having an internal API does nothing for your external developer community; we've long recognized that a Public API would be a great addition for our Lucid customers and partners. Last month we finally fixed that deficit.

See related documentation, The Lucid Meetings REST API, for a programmer's description of the entire API.

Getting Technical

Developing an open, public API for a web service such as Lucid Meetings can be a daunting task. While there is no shortage of best practices recommendations, there is also no single, prescribed approach for doing this work. In short, there are many ways to get this wrong, and no precise way to get it right. To focus our attention, we established a few guiding principles at the outset:

  1. Create a full featured API with read, write, and modify capability
  2. Adopt a pragmatic, RESTful approach that developers could embrace
  3. Use established patterns for resources (nouns) and actions (verbs)
  4. Use established patterns for authentication and authorization
  5. Fully, completely, lovingly document everything about the REST API
  6. Provide a large sample of relevant examples in our documentation
  7. Demonstrate the value of the API with a single, significant integration

It's fair to say we focused a lot of development attention on the correctness and completeness aspects of the API. Essentially, we focused on the first six points in our guiding principles list, researching relevant API theory as well as the current pragmatic thinking about REST API best practices.

And all that work paid off with a well organized, very usable API for technical developers to create new and interesting integrations with other applications.

What About Our Non-Technical Customers?

The last guiding principle, about demonstrating the value, is perhaps the most important. We can create APIs till the cows come home, but if we can't show how they add value then we're pretty much just talking about their potential, rather than their reality.

We needed a way to showcase the value of our newly minted API and we needed a way to directly enable the success for thousands of customers and their people.

Enter Zapier (rhymes with happier!)


Topics: meeting technology, release announcement

How to Build Professional Bonds With Online Meetings

June 14, 2016 at 4:21 PM by Freeconferencecall.com in remote work

Meetings are an important component of virtually any business. In the past, it was not uncommon for meeting participants to board a plane and fly to another coast or international locations.

This was necessary to ensure that all of the company divisions met face to face and were on the same page, but it cost a great deal of money. Travelling extensively meant that certain employees could not perform their regular jobs for potentially days at a time.

Thankfully, online meetings have changed all of that without compromising professional bonding. In fact, many of the technologies available today make staying in touch so much easier, which allows professional relationships to be stronger than ever and require less of a time commitment.


Topics: remote work

Facilitation Techniques for Consultants

June 13, 2016 at 10:33 AM by Ingrid Bens in meeting design

Introducing Ingrid Bens
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest template designer, Ingrid Bens. Ingrid is an award-winning author and facilitator whom we've known for many years. When we heard she had a new book out that included several meeting designs, we couldn't wait to share it here. Read on for more about Ingrid's new book, including a new Lucid Meetings template for Group Discovery that showcases one of her designs.
— Team Lucid

Professionals in every field spend years perfecting their expertise, but very few ever learn to facilitate.

This seems like an insignificant omission, but it’s actually a major skill gap when you consider how much time everyone spends attending meetings.

Facilitation skills matter because they let you structure complex decision-making conversations. Without structure, meetings tend to be unfocused and hence, unproductive. When you run a meeting that lacks structure you’re inviting the outspoken to dominate and the side-trackers to hijack the agenda.

In contrast, when you run a well-structured meeting, the conversation stays focused, all views are considered, decisions are made objectively and the meeting ends with clear next steps.

When you run an unstructured meeting you constantly have to fight to maintain control. When you have a clear structure, you look organized and in charge. The choice is clear.


Topics: meeting design