Making Decisions in Meetings

April 21, 2017 at 2:52 AM by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design

I used to believe that everything was a choice.

Whether I ate healthy food or not: a choice. Whether I obsessed over past slights or whether I forgave and moved on: a choice. I believed every action I took, and every action everyone takes, began with a decision to act.

I believed this choosing applied to organizations too. Do you run decent meetings, or do you ignore the ineptitude and hope it will go away on it’s own? That’s a choice.

Image credit: Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Yep. That sounded right to me. I’m big on self-responsibility that way.

Lately, my conviction has been shaken. I no longer believe every action follows a choice.

Now I believe instead that every action is a reaction. This goes for actions taken by organizations and those taken by individuals.

Begging the question: a reaction to what?

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

Coping with travel restrictions: When meeting face-to-face matters, and what to do when you can’t

March 17, 2017 at 12:42 PM by Nancy Settle-Murphy in leadership & facilitation, meeting design

Introducing Nancy Settle-Murphy
It’s my pleasure to welcome renowned virtual collaboration expert
Nancy Settle-Murphy to the blog.

Recently I gave a talk about taking government meetings online, and was asked how to succeed when the meeting was particularly sensitive. I didn’t have time to give the question the answer it deserved, so afterwards, I started looking for better information on this topic. I found Nancy, and knew she had the answer we needed to hear.

Nancy’s been answering this exact question - when you should meet face-to-face, and steps to take when you’re forced to meet online - for many years in her work for companies and organizations of all sizes. I’m thrilled she agreed to revisit her guidelines with us and share them here.

– Elise Keith, Lucid founder

Whenever possible, I recommend in-person meetings.

I know travel can be expensive and time consuming. Sometimes it's worth it.

Successful meetings connect people to the work at hand and to each other. We forge connections more easily with people we can see. While video conferencing gets better all the time, it can’t compete with being there.

Yet despite our best intentions, meeting in person isn’t always possible. Weather, politics, injury, family – everyone has a lot of life to juggle, and meeting travel gets dropped.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

7 Insights about Conversation, Relationship, and Being Remarkable

May 31, 2016 at 10:58 AM by Tricia Harris in leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques

We recently co-hosted a Q&A webinar with Paul Axtell, and didn’t know exactly what to expect.

He gave such a great presentation – useful tidbits about meetings, great conversations, and life in general - that we decided we owed it to our audience to share.

Watch the recording, or read below for excerpts and the transcript from the webinar.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques

5 Meetings for Remarkable Leaders

May 16, 2016 at 11:07 PM by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design

Remarkable leaders understand that how they design and lead meetings determines how well their group functions.

Why Leaders Need to Master Meetings 

Meetings serve a critical function in the workplace. The meeting's job is to lead a group from wherever they are individually to a new place where they can have a shared perspective.

We call this convergence; the merging of distinct perspectives into a unified whole. 

Teams that fail to converge around a shared perspective don't work. They hold different visions of what they should be doing. They work at cross-purposes. Decisions aren't clear, projects meander, and progress comes slowly or not at all.

It is the job of the meeting to give everyone a shared perspective on their work, and the job of the leader to make sure meetings succeed.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

The Power of Gratitude in Meetings

April 21, 2016 at 4:38 PM by Tom Flynn in leadership & facilitation

We've known Tom Flynn for many years. Over lunch recently, he shared with us this story about a master facilitator he met early in his career who had a powerful influence on shaping the kind of leader Tom is today.

With all the "tips" and "tricks" and "5 easy ways" we see every day about how to improve our meetings, it's easy to lose sight of how important the simple things, like really listening and remembering to say thank you, can be. Tom's story is a beautiful reminder and we're very grateful he's allowing us to share it with you here.

Thank you, Tom, from all of us at Lucid.


Tom's Story

I learned one of my favorite meeting management tips during my time working with international standards groups back in the early 2000s. It’s as surprisingly simple as it is powerful, and something I practice whenever I chair a committee or lead a meeting today.

Back then, I helped facilitate a weekly teleconference call with 10 to 20 marketing professionals representing different companies on the DLNA marketing committee. Each week, these representatives called in at odd hours of the day from their offices in Europe, Asia, and the US.

Calls like these easily lose focus or become routine and boring. They can also be very stressful. The participants represent different companies attempting to agree on a single way forward. Each person there was supposed to make sure their company’s interests were protected. The competitive environment, the repetitive weekly schedule, and the added challenges of odd hours and choppy phone lines made it very hard for people to engage in meetings like this one.

None of that, however, was a problem for our calls because of the special custom our committee chair practiced.

He closed every meeting beautifully.

I’d facilitated international meetings like this for 3-4 years and thought I had it down. This new marketing committee however, was a revelation. Each and every week, the committee chair concluded the meeting by recognizing and thanking the committee members, to powerful effect. I’d seen people say “Thank you” before, but this was more than simple good manners.

Our chair thanked people individually by name for their contributions in a sincere and meaningful way. He made everyone feel good about contributing, and inspired us to come to the next meeting ready to impress. The whole dynamic of the group changed, as each person worked harder to deserve this recognition by the end of the call.

How did he manage to find something to say about so many people each week? He planned for it in advance.

Facilitate: verb

  1. to make easier or less difficult; help forward
  2. to assist the progress of a person.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation

The Key to Organizational Discipline

March 4, 2016 at 11:52 AM by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation

Usually when we think of discipline, it’s deeply personal and not that much fun.

One kind of discipline involves punishing others. For example, as a parent, I may discipline my misbehaving child.

Another kind of discipline punishes ourselves. We exercise self-discipline when we turn down dessert, get up earlier than we want to go jogging in the rain, and save for retirement instead of splurging on luxuries.

Yet without the discipline to make a plan and stick to it, we can’t reach our goals. This applies whether the goals are personal or organizational; goals are meaningless if we aren’t taking the action required to achieve them.

Most organizations lack discipline. It takes discipline to clarify and communicate goals across a team, and even more discipline for all the individuals in the group to stick to the plan and do their part as time goes on.

When you operate at the organizational level, the type of discipline that leads to punishment for doing the wrong thing comes into play when someone either lacks the skills or the willingness to do their job. In situations like these, discipline looks like corrective action, or coaching, or training, or getting fired.

On the other hand, when the people in the group have the right skills and a willingness to do the job, a failure in organizational discipline looks like a problem with accountability. For reasons we often ascribe to weaknesses of character, the people we work with just don’t seem to follow through with the agreed upon strategy. They appear to lack that second flavor of discipline - self-discipline – to stick with the program and complete their tasks. We cajole, we threaten, we push and we pull, but things just don't change.

Those people. Grrrr.

Rules, bribes, punishment, constraints - not the best way to create discipline and alignment in a team.
FWIW: Amy is not actually one of those people.

A more Enjoyable Concept of Discipline

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation

A Protocol for Clearing Questions and Handling Complaints

January 26, 2016 at 6:47 PM by Paul Axtell in leadership & facilitation, meeting design

One of the most common requirements on a job posting is “Excellent communication skills”. The hope is that if you hire people with these excellent communication skills, you’ll avoid all the confusion, distrust, mistakes and anxiety that arises when people fail to communicate openly and clearly.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to evaluate how well someone’s excellent communication skills will perform on an ongoing basis in the short interview process. And no amount of excellent skills can overcome cultural habits that discourage questions and complaints, layers of management that keep people in the dark, or managers who don't know how to truly listen to what people tell them.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

Why It's a Mistake to Run Strategy Sessions Yourself

December 1, 2015 at 5:17 PM by Anna O’Byrne in leadership & facilitation

Small businesses thrive because their leaders have a can-do mentality; they take on all manner of specialist tasks, just to get it done on time and on budget. I'm the same.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation

Strategic Planning for Remote Teams: Interview with Hubstaff’s Dave Nevogt

October 31, 2015 at 1:00 PM by Anna O’Byrne in leadership & facilitation

Up today in the series on how remote teams do strategic planning: Dave Nevogt of Hubstaff on getting more freedom with strategic planning - starting with mission and values.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation

How a Completely Distributed Accounting Firm Does Strategic Planning, Virtually

October 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM by Anna O’Byrne in leadership & facilitation

For the virtual strategic planning series I interviewed another expat entrepreneur living in nearly the same time zone. Carrie McKeegan and her husband, David, run their distributed business from Bali. Their company not only works virtually - with a global team - but exists to solve a pain point inherent in working abroad: tax complications.

Read More...

Topics: leadership & facilitation