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.

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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

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

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.

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Topics: meeting design

Strategic Planning Meeting Essentials Pack

June 1, 2016 at 4:05 PM by Tricia Harris in remote work, meeting design

Creating a strategic plan for your business is a critical task for the leadership of every company.

If you don’t decide where you’re headed, you will lead aimlessly. People will follow your direction, but they won’t have context, insight into to your actions, or an understanding of how they can best contribute.

Any planning requires time and focused attention, yet with a few simple rules, building a strategic plan can be accomplished with less effort than most people think.

Best of all, once you create the plan, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Everyone in your organization can move in the same direction toward a common set of goals.

Mapping Your Strategic Plan

Building a strategic plan is like creating a map. It has directions for how an organization will accomplish any given strategy. The plan (map) explains where a company is going and the methods (roads) people will take to get there.

When your team decides to come together and build the plan, be sure to include all relevant stakeholders in the process. Without them, you’ll have less commitment to the final outcome.

Why Plan?

Many leaders understand the value of planning, but neglect to go through with it for a myriad of reasons. Time constraints, knowledge of the process, or perceived high cost can all be obstacles to executing.

Here are 5 great reasons to get your team together to create a strategic plan as soon as possible:

  1. You get to set priorities
    Provide clarity by letting your team know the most important initiatives for the organization.
  2. You get buy-in on company direction
    If everyone contributes to the process, they'll be more supportive of the outcomes.
  3. Your team will have alignment
    When your team has a mutual understanding of and agreement on the company's goals, they'll work together more effectively.
  4. You can simplify what you'll work on
    Once you limit yourself to a set of specific goals, you can be liberated to work on just those goals.
  5. As a leader, you can communicate your vision
    Once you document your company's vision, not only can you clear your head of thinking about it, but everyone around you (employees, vendors, leadership) can contribute to achieving the vision sooner.

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Topics: remote work, meeting design

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.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design