10 No-Nonsense Tips from "No More Boring Meetings"

January 14, 2017 at 6:35 PM by Tricia Harris in book review, meeting design

After more than 25 years of facilitating meetings and training groups, Beatrice Briggs, founder and director of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change, believes she's seen almost every group facilitation situation imaginable.

Yet, she continues to receive emails from colleagues that surprise her.

Numerous facilitators around the world teach managers and teams about the benefits of better meetings, yet few leaders actually understand why it's so important.

Heads of industry continue to focus on cash flow, operations, and reducing waste while ignoring the time, energy and money squandered in unproductive meetings.

Inspired by the many stories she's heard over the years, "No More Boring Meetings" aims to encourage teams and managers to reap the great benefits offered from their time meeting together.

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Topics: book review, meeting design

The Surprising Link Between Climate Change and Virtual Meetings

December 17, 2016 at 2:17 PM by Elise Keith in meeting design

In November, I was pleased to be invited to present our advice for running successful virtual meetings to the Government of Alberta as part of their Greening Government Speaker Series.

The series goal is to stimulate interest, discussion and action to help governments reduce their carbon footprint and support a sustainable approach to operation. (Learn more about the series on the MCCAC website.)

While our team cares about climate change deeply and we work to do what we can, it would be more than a stretch to say this is an area we're typically asked to speak on.

So what prompted the invitation?

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Topics: meeting design

How often should you meet? Selecting the right meeting cadence for your team.

December 4, 2016 at 2:30 AM by Elise Keith in meeting design

What is a meeting cadence and why does it matter?

In our post about why teams meet, I outlined two basic rules:

  1. Meet to maintain momentum.
  2. Meet to change course.

Kickoffs, retrospectives, emergency meetings, planning sessions, workshops, sales, negotiations - these all fall under the definition of “changing course”.

A team’s regularly scheduled meetings should maintain work momentum and strengthen the relationships between team members. The frequency of these regular meetings sets the team’s work cadence.

We use the term cadence here very deliberately. You may find others referring to this pattern of regular meetings as the team’s meeting rhythm.

If the words cadence and rhythm bring to mind pictures of rowers at the oar, you’ve got the right idea.

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Topics: meeting design

Meeting Execution: The Underlying Structure of Meetings that Work

November 14, 2016 at 7:26 PM by Elise Keith in meeting design

Behind every effort to improve an organization’s meetings, you’ll find a larger initiative focused on increasing productivity and improving culture.

Organizations that run effective meetings as a matter of course do so because it improves the productivity and cohesion of teams as a whole, in a way that individual productivity improvements can’t match.

To maximize the productivity of a meeting, and of meetings in general, it helps to understand exactly what you expect meetings to produce.

Previously, we asserted that meetings should “quickly create shared perspective”.

Let’s unpack that one. What do you get from teams that have a shared perspective?

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Topics: meeting design

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

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

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.

In theory, the work should be something we can plan and manage logically. After each piece of work begins, there are a series of tasks to complete and problems to solve that continue on until the work is done.

Also in theory, the people doing the work should be able to coordinate their efforts through a simple exchange of factual information. When Fred completes task A, he marks it done, and Betty starts task B. When Alan runs into a problem with the work, he could write down the facts of the situation and send them to others for help – help they could then offer in any number of ways that do not involve a team meeting.

Clean, efficient, and logical. When the work is well understood and routine, this approach makes sense. The people doing the work click along like a "well-oiled machine".

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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.

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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.

This figure is now double the volume of meetings that were taking place back in 1999.

Why the large volume of unproductive meetings? It may be due to the lack of planning skills on the part of the organizer and the ability to manage timekeeping once the meeting begins.

The reality is that an effective business meeting should only include those who are absolutely necessary to be included and should go on for no longer than the allocated time.

An agenda should always be prepared and the main goal for any effective meeting is to stick to the agenda and not divert from it.

When it comes to meeting innovations, the world now looks to Scandinavia to lead when it comes to the development of meeting venue concepts, technology and meeting room design.

Outside of this, virtual meetings have taken hold and have shown strong promise in advancing the industry at large with 75% of high-growth businesses using video-enabled collaboration solutions and reporting a 30% faster decision-making experience as a result.

For an illustrated look at the meetings industry, see the below infographic created by the Sheraton Athlone Hotel:

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Topics: fun with meetings

Smarter Meeting Planning: The Process Approach

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

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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.

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Topics: meeting technology

How to 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.

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Topics: meeting design

What’s New with Lucid Meetings: August 2016

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

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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!

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Topics: release announcement