How To Establish an Effective Decision-Making Process for Your Team in 5 Simple Steps

Sep 16, 2019 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design, strategy (24 minute read)

Many teams lack a clear process for making decisions. Others create decision-making processes that are plenty clear, but take forever. Most employ a confused mix, running some decisions through an agonizing gauntlet of analysis but leaving others up to the leader-of-the-day's whims.

These teams waste money and time. They also undermine the group's confidence and trust.

Who wants to work on a team where nothing gets done, because no one ever makes a decision without first checking and re-analyzing 97,000 times? Not me. Not you, I'm guessing.

None of us wants to work with a leader who makes arbitrary decisions based on secret criteria, either. While executive mandate sounds powerful, in reality it means that the leader couldn't get anyone else to back that decision with them, so they chose to bully it into being instead.

What works? And if your team doesn't have great decision making habits, how do you get started?

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design, strategy

6 Reasons Most Efforts to Fix a Bad Meeting Culture Fail and How You Can Beat the Odds

Mar 14, 2019 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, training (13 minute read)

Earlier this week we announced the opening of Meeting School, the world's only online educational marketplace dedicated to meeting skills education. Meeting School offers courses taught by the team at Lucid and by meeting specialists, scientists, and experts from around the globe.

At Lucid Meetings, our mission is to make it easy for teams to run successful meetings every day. Teaching teams the skills they need to run successful meetings seems like an obvious way for us to fulfill this mission, and yet we're just now opening our first courses to students.

For years, when I shared the Lucid mission with new people they would say "Oh, so you do training? Workshops and things?" They assumed that a group looking to run better meetings would need workshops.

But we'd seen too many organizations invest in failed quick-fix meeting improvement programs, and we weren't interested in creating yet another well-meaning but doomed-to-fail batch of meeting training.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, training

Transforming Expertise into Mastery

Sep 19, 2018 by Paul Dreyer in leadership & facilitation (3 minute read)

The Lucid Meetings team is thrilled to introduce Paul Dreyer.

Our founder Elise Keith met Paul when visiting Zingerman's. At the time, Paul was visiting Zingerman's to see how they'd evolved their training practice, and Elise was conducting research for Where the Action Is.  

They got to talking about the Conscious Competence Ladder, a tool they'd both used for training meetings. Paul shared how he'd developed an updated version of the model for use in his work - and yes, it's way better! He's generously agreed to share this updated model with the Lucid community. Thank you, Paul! 

When I first learned about the "Conscious Competence Ladder” of becoming an expert, I loved it.

I immediately added it to my leadership and communication tool box. Whether I was learning something myself or facilitating a training on leadership development, I would often point to this model as an effective and powerful awareness tool.

Sometimes also referred to as the "Conscious Competence Matrix” or the "Four Stages of Learning," this model helps us  better understand the struggling landscape we must travel when learning something new.

Of course, I was not alone. Since it was developed in the 1970s, the Conscious Competence Ladder has become a widely used and loved tool. From classrooms to boardrooms to best-selling books on communication (i.e. Malcolm Gladwell's Blink), this model seems to show up everywhere.

Unfortunately, it's incomplete and actually not a good model. Let me show you how to transform the model into something better.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation

The 4 Meeting Agendas that Drive Strategic Execution (Plus Guidebooks for Each)

Aug 18, 2017 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, strategy (28 minute read)

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Dual Cadence of Leadership Meetings
  3. The Leadership Team Meeting Agenda Templates
  4. The Operational Management Meetings
    Driving Day-to-Day Execution
  5. The Strategic Management Meetings
    Driving the Correct Course of Action
  6. How the Leadership Cadence Meetings Work Together
  7. Next Steps
  8. Additional Resources
Get all of the Guides

1. Introduction

When we started Lucid Meetings, it wasn’t because we were all excited about meetings.

It was because meetings are the most powerful tool, but also the most neglected, underdeveloped, and misapplied tool, we can use to create a healthy business.

The meetings aren’t the goal. It’s the well-run business that we're after.

Recently we’ve been exploring the science and theory behind what makes meetings successful.

You can read all about the core function of meetings, the underlying structures that make them work, and the science behind effective decision making in meetings on our blog.

Today, we’re putting all that into practice. This post covers the core meetings that drive effective business management.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, strategy

The Leader's Guide for Making Decisions in Meetings

Apr 20, 2017 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design (56 minute read)

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)

Mar 17, 2017 by Nancy Settle-Murphy in leadership & facilitation, meeting design (14 minute read)

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

7 Insights about Conversation, Relationship, and Being Remarkable

May 31, 2016 by Tricia Harris in leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques (17 minute read)

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.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, tips & techniques

5 Meetings for Remarkable Leaders

May 16, 2016 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design (7 minute read)

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

The Power of Gratitude in Meetings

Apr 21, 2016 by Tom Flynn in leadership & facilitation (4 minute read)

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.

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Topics: leadership & facilitation

The Key to Organizational Discipline

Mar 4, 2016 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation (8 minute read)

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

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Topics: leadership & facilitation