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.

At least it feels like a long time to one of them. The other –

a more advanced student – rests in comfortable contemplation, focusing deeply on sending healing energy throughout his body.

The first one wants to send healing to his body, too. If only it wasn't so damn cold! As the minutes pass, he begins to fear that bits of him must surely be freezing off. His anxiety escalates until he feels compelled to flee for the warm cabin.

An outside observer would say that these two men shared the same experience. But really, their individual feelings about the time they spent couldn't be more different.

One experienced a tortuous ordeal.

The other experienced a nourishing moment of calm.

Images by DALL·E

This anecdote, relayed in the book What Doesn't Kill Us by Scott Carney, holds two lessons for the meeting designer.


Topics: meeting design

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?

Before that, there wasn't much need. Horses rarely ran into each other, and most people traveled by foot. There were no speed limits, no lane markings, no directional signage, and few street name signs. Traffic control was not a thing.

The first stop sign was an intervention. More cars led to more accidents, and something had to be done.

Since then, our understanding of how to manage traffic has evolved. Today, the stop sign is one of many internationally recognized signals. We enjoy sophisticated, continually evolving systems for routing traffic.

Left: The first stop sign was installed in Detroit, Michigan. Source
Right: Traffic control on SW Moody in Portland, OR in 2020 Source

Like rapid travel, meetings used to be an infrequent activity. Courtiers, guild masters, and bishops met. Everyone else went about their business with no need to draft an agenda or call anyone to order.

“Let’s have one or two guild meetings this year.
50% business, 50% ritualized drinking, of course. All in favor?” Image Source

While the 20th century saw a rise in the management class, it wasn't until the 1980s that most of the workforce held jobs that required regular meetings.

As the percentage of people in manufacturing and agriculture declines, the percentage attending regular meetings increases. Source

Still, there wasn't too much traffic running through the conference room. Most companies shared a few meeting tips with leaders, then expected everyone to work it out.

Then the 2020 lockdowns arrived, and meeting traffic exploded. Calendars became gridlocked with overlapping, back-to-back video conferences. Software that analyzes calendar data saw increases in meeting time ranging from 13-148% (Sources: National Bureau of Economic Research, Microsoft). So many meetings!

Two years later, employees everywhere are crashing and burning out from sitting in endless meeting traffic jams.

Screenshot from a real calendar, blurred for privacy. This person contacted support hoping for an easier way to figure out which meeting to attend when he was invited to several at once.

The Great Resignation is hitting some companies harder than others. Companies with a well-designed Meeting Operating System - a system that directs meeting activity to ensure meetings flow effectively and efficiently - enjoy calendars that look a lot like they did before the lockdown. Those embracing asynchronous communications have even more time free for other work.


Topics: meeting design, communication architecture, meeting culture

The BRIDGeS Rapid Planning Method

May 20, 2022 by Railsware in meeting design, guest post (4 minute read)

Earlier this year, we were contacted by the team at Railsware about a meeting method they'd developed that they call BRIDGeS. We invited them to share their method here  because we think that:

  1. This is a great example of the kind of practices teams can develop when they purposefully design their meetings, and
  2. It's a useful method that more people should try!

Read more and download their helpful guide below.
~Lucid Meetings Team


Topics: meeting design, guest post

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.


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.

Last week's invasion of Ukraine resurfaced this conversation. Looking back, the Notre Dame fire seems merely unfortunate in comparison to the events of the past several years. We've been bombarded by tragedies, and many teams have developed better ways of processing these events together.

Even still - when new events unfold, we need to decide:
What should we do in our upcoming meetings?

Should we begin by acknowledging what's happening, even though most meetings deal with entirely unrelated topics? And how can you NOT talk about it?

As a meeting leader, you may feel it's important to address something that you believe is or should be on everyone's mind before diving into your agenda.

You might be right, You might also be making an assumption that could derail your meeting.


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.


Topics: meeting design

Proven Step-by-Step Recipes for Hiring, Developing, and Retaining Great People

Sep 16, 2021 by Elise Keith in leadership & facilitation, meeting design (13 minute read)

Right now, many teams are dealing with massive turnover. Reports on the "Turnover Tsunami" and "The Great Resignation" reveal staggering volatility across industries and countries. Have you driven past the restaurants in your area recently? If so, you've seen the desperate billboards advertising hiring bonuses, increased wages, and pleading with customers to forgive their limited services.

It's not just the restaurants, as seen in this text message.

Why is this happening? Lots of reasons.

According to Gallup, it may have nothing to do with the organization, the manager, or the team; this is part of what happens when major events force people to re-evaluate their life choices. Normally, major events like graduations, marriages, births, and deaths are infrequent and sprinkled randomly across the workforce. During these last 18 months, every single person experienced a major life event all at once. Everyone is re-evaluating their life choices, and a lot of them are deciding it's time for a change.

In short, it may not be about you right now.

Of course, if your whole team just quit, it might be entirely about you. Your company might be a terrible place to work. You might be an awful manager. Gallup also says that the Great Resignation is made worse by a pervasive Great Discontent.

Whatever the reason, labor shortages are making it hard to get work done.

The cascading failures are unraveling the supply chain. Whole teams are walking away from complicated systems, leaving their replacements with no one to tell them how it all works. This makes the new jobs especially difficult because customers haven't relaxed their expectations. Kindness, unfortunately, is not as contagious as Covid-19.

While many are leaving their jobs, it's likely that boredom, loneliness, or finances will drive them into new jobs soon.

What does this mean for employers and people leaders?


Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

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:


Topics: meeting design

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.


Topics: leadership & facilitation, meeting design

Hindsight is 2020: How to Run a Year-in-Review Team Retrospective

Dec 30, 2020 by Enrico Teotti in meeting design, guest post (12 minute read)

What happened? So what does that mean? Now what should we do going forward? 

In a retrospective meeting, you and your team work to answer these three questions together. When you’re reviewing a short event that just happened, your retrospective meeting might be very short as you all simply work to answer these questions directly. 

When you’re looking at something as long as a year or something involving lots of complex interrelated parts, it doesn’t work to just ask “So, what happened in 2020?” That’s more likely to encourage day drinking than useful insights. 

For something as 2020 as 2020, you’ll need to put a bit more structure in place if you want a useful result.

Introducing Enrico Teotti

That’s why we're thrilled to introduce you all to Enrico Teotti. Enrico hosts the This is Retrospective Facilitation podcast and is an active leader in the agile facilitation and coaching community.

As his holiday gift to us all, Enrico put together a meeting template we can use to try and make some useful sense out of 2020 with our teams. Check it out!

~ Team Lucid

Running an End-of-Year Retrospective

How was your year?

In this short post I'll describe one way to run an annual retrospective so you and your group can reflect on what happened this past year, discuss what you make of it, and begin to decide what the next wise actions to take next year might be.


Topics: meeting design, guest post

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