Elise Keith

Lucid Meetings Co-Founder, based in Portland, OR
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Recent Posts

Time Management is a Perversion

Nov 17, 2022 by Elise Keith in meeting design (9 minute read)

Two people sit mostly naked in the snow, breathing deeply. They remain quiet and still for a long time.

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Topics: meeting design

The 3 Root Causes of Chronically Bad Meetings

Nov 4, 2022 by Elise Keith (4 minute read)

Now, I'm curious: have you noticed that a growing number of companies are trying to solve their crushing meeting load by canceling them?

All of them.
 

 

For some, this intervention provides a much-needed break and the time they needed to redesign a more thoughtful approach. See the HBR article Meeting Overload is a Fixable Problem by Rebecca Hinds and Bob Sutton for an example.

(You can find several more examples in this Meeting Innovation Community discussion thread.)

For others, their calendars quickly fill back up, just like a trash heap in the belly of a starship. 

That's because interventions like these don't address the root causes of ineffective meetings. We've found that there are three underlying root cause problems that lead to chronically bad meetings.

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Designing a Thoughtful Return to the Office

Oct 24, 2022 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, communication architecture, meeting culture (11 minute read)

It looks to me like we've broken work. Not for everyone, and not everywhere, but for a lot of teams the WE part of work isn't working.

I know. This isn't new.

Work has been kinda broken for a lot of people for a long time. But take it from a lady who deploys lots of duct tape and safety pins: there's a big difference between kinda broken and all-the-way broken.

The lockdowns broke office work. They forced many people out of jobs, and many more into isolation in an attempt to protect our communities. Even though we went through this experience together, we experienced it alone. We were forced to craft a way of working that was uniquely tailored to our individual circumstances. As "3 weeks to flatten the curve" morphed into multiple years with an ever-shifting end goal, we developed new habits.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, communication architecture, meeting culture

How many meetings are there per day in 2022? (And should you care?)

Aug 31, 2022 by Elise Keith in fun with meetings, meeting culture (20 minute read)

This is a popular search. For those of you building infographics and reports and term papers, here's the bottom line up front.

Our 2022 best-guess estimates for the number of meetings per day in the US:

  • 1976: 11 million
  • 2015: 55 million
  • 2020 lockdown: 80+ million
  • 2022: 62 to 80 million

For everyone else, read on to understand where these numbers come from, why they're irrelevant for most people, and when (or if) you should care about the number of meetings in your organization.

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Topics: fun with meetings, meeting culture

Intervention, Implementation, or Iteration: What do your meetings need now?

Jul 26, 2022 by Elise Keith in meeting design, communication architecture, meeting culture (8 minute read)

Did you know that the first stop sign was installed in 1915?

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Topics: meeting design, communication architecture, meeting culture

Meetings still lousy? Look for the "Yah, but..."

May 4, 2022 by Elise Keith in meeting culture (5 minute read)

Many teams endure too much time wasted in unproductive meetings. I am increasingly convinced that this is not due to a lack of knowledge.

Want to help me test this hypothesis? Take our short survey and share it with your peers!

Take a Short Survey:  5 Obvious Tips for Better Meetings

We are awash in information about How to plan and run productive meetings. We have centuries of useful tips and multiple professions full of people who know how to structure and lead a productive meeting to draw upon.

I believe instead that those ineffective meetings are a systemic issue. If leaders really wanted to address their meeting problems, they could - but they don't.

Something gets in the way. That something is baked into the team culture. It's the

"how things get done around here." It's a system that has no allowance for making changes to meetings.

Of course, the company handbook doesn't decree that "Thou shalt run soul-sucking meetings." If the meetings are bad and we're not talking about the meetings, then that's a shadow system. Shadow systems are full of unwritten rules, workarounds, and habits governing how people interact. Part ingenuity, part social conformity, and a whole bunch of just not looking too closely because we have other priorities right now thank you very much.

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Topics: meeting culture

A Framework for Designing World-Class Team Cadence and Progress Check Meetings

Apr 10, 2022 by Elise Keith in meeting design (28 minute read)

Want to quickly make an enormous impact on the meetings in your organization? Roll out an effective strategy for your Team Cadence and Progress Check meetings.

Too much time wasted in unproductive meetings. Meeting overload. Zoom fatigue. Article after article decries the plague of too many meetings gobbling up our time.

Looking for data about how awful this problem is and some recycled quick tips?

No problem! These are just a few of the articles published on this topic in the past few months.

The articles keep coming, but the challenge persists.

One reason: these complaints don't actually apply to all meetings. People are not upset that they spend too much time meeting with clients, or have too many solution design sessions.

The problem is all the status meetings, the team meetings, and the ad-hoc "synch-ups", "check-ins", and "touch-bases" that drag teams down.

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Topics: meeting design

Should you talk about the news at work? If so, how?

Mar 1, 2022 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques, meeting design (5 minute read)

Several years ago I wrote an article for Inc. about 3 Powerful Ways to Help Your Team Cope With Tragedy. At the time, the tragedy was the burning of Notre Dame.

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Topics: tips & techniques, meeting design

How to Run Better Planning Meetings

Feb 8, 2022 by Elise Keith in meeting design (15 minute read)

I enjoy planning meetings. I also enjoy large, easy jigsaw puzzles.

I love it when a successful plan comes together!

When you know the basic shape you’re going for, and you have a bunch of the pieces handy, it can be quite satisfying to get them to all fit together into a nice, coherent picture. With a jigsaw puzzle, it’s very clear that the value is in the activity itself. People who puzzle do so because they enjoy spending their time figuring it out—not because they’re genuinely curious about what the end picture might be.

Like the picture you see when you finish a jigsaw puzzle, most of the plans you get at the end of a planning meeting aren’t really meant to last.

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Topics: meeting design

How to Optimize Your Team’s Information Sharing in Meetings

Jan 5, 2022 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques, meeting culture (30 minute read)

Meeting overload, zoom fatigue, and too much time wasted in unproductive meetings: these problems grow during periods of rapid change. Bad meetings proliferate when we struggle to communicate well. And when things change rapidly, we need to share more information more often to keep on top of the situation. 

According to a 2013 study by PMI, $75 million for every $1 billion spent on projects is put at risk by ineffective communications. (source)

Remember 2013? Looking back, those seem like such simple times!  How much more money do you imagine we're losing now, after two years of constant uncertainty? If we struggled to share information effectively back then, it's no wonder that today's meeting madness has become so overwhelming.

Now imagine,  what else might we accomplish if we could redirect those wasted funds (and time and energy) towards achieving some worthwhile goals?

Good news! You can solve these problems for your teams by developing an effective communication architecture that includes a well-designed Meeting Operating System (MOS).

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Topics: tips & techniques, meeting culture

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