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?

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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.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

A Mindfulness-Based Technique for Leading Sensitive Discussions

February 23, 2017 at 6:32 PM by Dr. Patricia Thompson in meeting design

I’m thrilled to introduce Dr. Patricia Thompson to the community of meeting designers and coaches featured on our blog. I first learned about Dr. Thompson and her work through an article she wrote for Harvard Business Review titled How Mindfulness Helped a Workplace Diversity Exercise.

In the article, she talks about using mindfulness-based discussion techniques to help an ineffective diversity team break through their barriers and learn to work together.

Before you get the wrong idea, Dr. Thompson isn’t a diversity coach. Instead, she helps executives cultivate positive organizational cultures through selection, leadership development, and team building. She also teaching mindfulness techniques that they can apply to make their workplaces more engaged, trusting, and healthy places to be.

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Topics: meeting design

Meeting Design: How to Create Standard Agendas for Your Business

February 11, 2017 at 7:01 PM by Elise Keith in meeting design

Are successful meetings what your company sells?
Is your non-profit’s mission to help others run more effective meetings?

Unless you are a professional facilitator or a meeting software company, the answer is probably “No.”

Do you need the meetings you lead to succeed? To help you win sales of the product you sell, and influence those who can advance your mission?

If you care about business effectiveness, then the answer is “Yes”.

You need meetings to function well, but the meeting itself is a means to an end; not an important product of your business.

To ensure important meetings get results, organizations with a high level of meeting performance maturity rely on a set of standard agendas.

Our Way!

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Topics: meeting design

How To Refresh Your Strategic Plan in 4 Hours or Less

February 3, 2017 at 10:21 AM by Paul Axtell in meeting design

good-plan-today-better-than-perfect.jpg

We all know (or should know) that strategic planning is a necessity for business. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there.

Updating and ensuring that your plan is still viable is also a necessity. According to an Ernst & Young study, a full 66% of corporate strategy is never executed with one explanation being that they simply no longer reflect your business or circumstances.

Finding the right time for your group to get together and take a fresh look at your future can be difficult when the daily details of running the business are staring you in the face. Still, it’s imperative to know that your future plans still make sense and your current projects are aligned with that future.

Today’s blog covers an outline that can guide you through a morning of conversation to get back in touch with the future you created a while back and adjust it as necessary.

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Topics: meeting design

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