Elise Keith

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

Leading Successful All-Hands Meetings: Avoid Common Mistakes and Advance Your Mission

Jul 22, 2021 by Elise Keith in meeting design (18 minute read)

Most organizations host regular meetings involving everyone on their teams.
These meetings go by many names: all-hands, all-staff, all teams, town halls, business update meetings, Teatime, TGIF, and more. This form of meeting, where you gather everyone in your tribe at the same time, is thousands of years old and practiced by every kind of group.  Unfortunately, none of these names provide much guidance about how to make these meetings worthwhile.

Like every meeting, the key to a great all-hands meeting is to clearly define the purpose and intended outcomes in advance. Why do you host these meetings? What should be different afterward as a result?

"All Hands" just describes the attendee list.

I've been asked how to improve all-hands meetings by several clients over the years. In this article, I've pulled together all those separate bits of advice in one place.

Read on to learn:

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Topics: meeting design

A Process for Navigating Your Company's Changing Way of Working

Jul 14, 2021 by Elise Keith (8 minute read)

I've been thinking a lot about how some teams are designed to operate with uncertainty, but most are not.

The teams that operate in uncertain conditions never know what they'll face when they show up to work. Firefighters, athletes, investigators: they can't plan what will happen each day. Instead, they develop skills for performing in a variety of situations, tools for assessing the situation they find themselves in, and then respond with their best guess at what they believe will work in the moment.

If the first attempt doesn't work, then they update their thinking, make a new decision, and try something else.

Decide - see real world results - get information - update mental models - update decision making rules - decide again
Teams respond, adapt, and improve by using approaches like Chris Argyris's double-loop learning. So smart!

Right now, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the return to the workplace. Should we try to get everyone back into the office? If so, when? Or how often?

The right choices aren't clear.

Of course, the experts say... so, so many things!

That all our employees will quit if we don't support remote work. Or hybrid work. That we have to be flexible, but that hybrid teams are the hardest to run and the most likely to increase inequality.

Whatever it is we choose, we'll probably get it wrong. We also absolutely must communicate these choices clearly with our teams, because all this uncertainty is burning people out.

Then we'll never hear the end of it. Our teams will probably tell us all the ways our decisions are wrong if we ask. Or if we don't, they'll just leave.

Aha.

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Make Better Decisions Faster by Standardizing Your Decision-Making Criteria

Jul 9, 2021 by Elise Keith in tips & techniques, decision making (8 minute read)

Note: These criteria were originally shared as part of our guide to establishing an effective decision-making process

Have you ever responded to a Request For Proposal (RFP), with its pages and pages of Musts, Shoulds, and Nice to Have selection criteria?

Or, let's keep it simple. Have you ever worked with your team to decide where you should go for lunch?

If you've ever chosen between multiple viable options, you've used decision-making criteria to make that choice.

Or maybe not? Maybe you and your team acted out this scene?

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Topics: tips & techniques, decision making

It's Time to Talk About Your Meetings. Here's How to Get Started.

Apr 30, 2021 by Elise Keith in meeting culture (7 minute read)

"How can we reduce the time we're spending in meetings?"

I used to love it when clients asked me this, because wow - what a softball! This is easy math. To reduce time wasted in unproductive meetings, you can:

  1. Cancel meetings.
    Look for any meeting that lacks a clear purpose or goals, and get rid of it.

  2. Shorten meetings.
    Whack 10 minutes off of every recurring meeting on your calendar, and stick to the new time limit.

  3. Invite fewer people.
    Eliminate meeting time for those people, who probably have better things to do anyway.

  4. Assign a timekeeper.
    This increases your team's awareness of time passing in the meeting and your odds of ending on time or early.

Here's a quicky video summing up these easy-math tips.

 

But do these simple answers help the smart professionals asking this question? 

No.

Of course not, because this isn't really a math question.

This is a question about how to change a team's meeting culture.

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Topics: meeting culture

5 Rules for Leading Excellent Meetings with Your Team Every Day

Jan 25, 2021 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design (8 minute read)

Successful businesses do the things that others know they should do …. but generally don’t.

~ Ari Weinzwig's 7th Natural Law of Business

So let's talk about those things you need to do to run great everyday business meetings with your teams. And yes, I'm going to share some guidelines you may already know.

Hopefully, you'll be inspired to follow them.

It's worth the effort. The leaders we've met who follow these "rules" enjoy more productivity, more loyalty, more engagement, better decision making, and less BS drama between team members than everyone else. And frankly, none of this is actually that hard to do.

Here are five rules for team meetings that I share with my business clients, and that I wish someone had taught me when I started my business.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

3+ Ways to Approach Strategic Planning

Sep 14, 2020 by Elise Keith in strategy (2 minute read)

As 2020 continues to teach us all how much God enjoys a good laugh at our plans, we've noticed a dramatic uptick in the number of people downloading strategic planning meeting templates.


Strategic planning isn't a type of meeting. It's a process, and there are many ways you can approach that process.

We have several strategic planning resources available on the Lucid Meetings websites, each of which serves different types of groups and situations. If you've only seen one of these resources, you might find the alternatives useful too.

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Topics: strategy

Communicating in Real Time, Near Time, and Far Time

Sep 8, 2020 by Elise Keith in communication architecture (9 minute read)

Behind the scenes here at Lucid Meetings, we talk a lot about how to support organizations as they work to establish a robust, effective, and resilient communication architecture.

Communication Architecture
The method and frequency by which information, attention, and intent flows between people, teams, and systems in your organization.

See also Meeting Flow Models and Meeting Operating Systems.

Today, I'm inviting you to "think out loud" with us as we work to refine these ideas.

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Topics: communication architecture

How to Identify and Eliminate Meetings That Waste Your Team's Time

Aug 4, 2020 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation (9 minute read)

In previous articles, we explored ways to determine the best-fit meeting cadence for your team. An effective meeting cadence means your team is talking often enough to maintain momentum and build solid working relationships, but not so often that they have trouble completing other work. 

Looking at the many examples provided in these articles, I hope we can agree that most teams have some meetings which are required to successfully achieve their goals. If we accept that we need at least some meetings, we can reject the lazy idea that we'll fix our unproductive meeting problem by just cancelling lots of meetings.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation

How to Find the Most Productive Meeting Schedule for a Team Like Yours

Aug 4, 2020 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design (12 minute read)

Too much time wasted in unproductive meetings. This remains a top contender on the list of workplace complaints, as it has been for at least 700 years.


Some folks wrestling with this complaint assume that the solution is to simply reduce the amount of time spent in meetings, ideally through the elimination of as many meetings as possible. This is a tidy, easily measured approach, which can yield a quick claim to victory.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

Case Study: Conservation Colorado Eliminates Employees' Top Complaint

Jul 20, 2020 by Elise Keith in case studies (8 minute read)

Too much time wasted in unproductive meetings.  Ineffective meetings plague companies around the globe, making this a top complaint for employees at every level.

Conservation Colorado engaged Lucid Meetings to help them improve their meeting performance, which had been consistently rated the number one problem in their annual employee feedback surveys.

I spoke with Nikki Riedt, Conservation Colorado's Operation and Finance Director, at the end of our engagement together about their experience. I'm delighted to be able to share that feedback with you here.

Background

Conservation Colorado is an organization working to protect Colorado’s climate, air, land, water, and communities through organizing, advocacy, and elections.

The level of urgency and scrutiny surrounding climate change has skyrocketed. In response to this rapidly changing landscape, Conservation Colorado's changed too. By the time they contacted Lucid, the executive team featured many leaders who were new to the organization within the past year, and the total number of employees was growing rapidly.

What wasn't changing? The way they all felt about their meetings.

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Topics: case studies

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