Fast, Fun, and Powerful: Design Sprints

Jun 17, 2019 by Douglas Ferguson in meeting design (6 minute read)

Introducing Douglas Ferguson
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest contributor, Douglas Ferguson. Douglas Ferguson is the president of Voltage Control, an Austin-based agency that specializes in Innovation Transformation.

We were introduced to Douglas through our network as the go-to facilitator to bring in when you want to run a Design Sprint.

What's a Design Sprint? In this post, Douglas tells us all about it.
— Team Lucid

We often know what we should do or what we want to do to make our product and services better. But, we don’t. Instead, what we have to do and what’s on fire at-the-moment usually takes precedence. So, when we want to make big shifts, it’s all about carving out time and focus. Design Sprints give you both.

Let me give you an example from one of my favorite Design Sprints: on-demand meal delivery company Favor asked me to facilitate a Design Sprint last year. They wanted to focus on how to improve the earnings of their “Runners" (the people who deliver the meals) by 10% while also cutting the number of Runners who found the job frustrating by half.

Tackling this problem with design had been on their mind, but they just hadn’t gotten to it. By dedicating time for a Design Sprint, they were able to kickstart important improvements.

"We started with all these ideas about what our users wanted and needed in the next version of our app. The design sprint made us rapidly validate these assumptions instead of getting months down the road and realizing we were designing things our users didn’t want or need. In one week, we were able to build a solid foundation for our redesign from real user feedback."

-Meg Nidever, UX Designer, Favor Delivery

Even better, the Sprint experience led to a renewed dedication to prototyping and user testing for the Favor team.

What is a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint is like an all-inclusive retreat for your next great business idea. This timeboxed, self-contained process allows teams the opportunity to consider an existing problem or a new idea, gather insights on potential or current users, prototype ideas, and validate them all within about five days.

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Topics: meeting design

Want Better Engagement in Meetings? Take Some Tips From This Fabulous Ship Full of Nerds

May 28, 2019 by Elise Keith in meeting design (5 minute read)

I often find inspiration for better meetings from gatherings outside the business world. I'm curious: what is it that makes someone who grimaces through every meeting pony up good money to gather with other people after work? Why do so many people raise their hands claiming to hate meetings when I speak at meetings they had to pay to attend? 

People don't hate meetings. They hate pointless wastes of their time. So what does success look like?

Successful gatherings of all types share several common characteristics. The JoCo cruise is one such successful gathering.

Mermaids relaxing at a JoCo cruise stop. Pic by Steve Petrucelli

Billed as a "nerdy summer camp at sea," the JoCo cruise is an affinity cruise for lovers of sci-fi, fantasy, board games, and all things deliciously nerdy. More importantly, as John Schwartz writes in the New York Times, the JoCo cruise regularly creates a "floating community of friends."

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Topics: meeting design

How to Prevent the Opinion Wars That Derail Decision Making

Jan 18, 2019 by Beatrice Briggs in meeting design (4 minute read)

One of the most important reasons for holding a meeting is to make decisions.

Yet too often, the decision-making process degenerates into a battle between competing points of view. Participants become polarized, entrenched in their positions and paralyzed by their disagreements. Unable to resolve the conflict, the group often makes a decision that everyone says they can live with, but that no one really supports. Or worse, no decision gets made at all, and the group misses the opportunity to take positive collective action.

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Topics: meeting design

Maturing The Meeting Performance Maturity Model

Sep 5, 2018 by Elise Keith in meeting design (11 minute read)

The Anna Karenina phenomenon builds on the first line of Tolstoy’s novel, which states:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

When it comes to how an organization meets, we find the opposite to be more true.  Unhappy organization are all alike; every happy organization meets in its own way.

The organizations that provide the case study examples for organizational excellence, cultural cohesion, and that achieve the enviable combination of economic performance and a healthy workplace have all discovered ways to meet that are both effective and tailored for them.

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Topics: meeting design

Meetings and Productivity: Driver or Drain?

Aug 24, 2018 by Elise Keith in meeting design (9 minute read)

Looking at the ROI (Return on Investment) of meetings provides insight into which parts of the business need to take meeting performance more seriously, and which parts are already working well.

In a recent webinar (click here to see the recording), I shared the four main areas of organizational performance that are most impacted by meetings.

Some of these, like sales and new business development, directly impact our ability to generate new top-line revenue. The ROI of training sales people to run excellent meetings is no-brainer obvious; trained sales people sell more stuff and make more money.

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Topics: meeting design

5 Steps to Improving Engagement in Meetings

Jul 30, 2018 by Elise Keith in meeting design (29 minute read)

Note: This post is an excerpt from Chapter 8 in Where the Action Is: the Meetings That Make or Break Your Organization, available now on Amazon.com

Participation propels perceived meeting quality. We call it participation when we are attending a meeting—as in, "I had a chance to participate." Meeting leaders often use the term engagement to describe the same thing.

The Spectrum of Meeting Engagement

Engagement is about getting the individual into the meeting, about breaking through the noise and fog of whatever may be going on for each person so they can focus their will on the collective goals. Meeting engagement is observable behavior; you can see whether or not someone engages in a meeting. This engagement falls across a spectrum of behavior that looks something like this.

At the bottom end of the spectrum, you have the Disruptive behavior— things like:

  • Arriving late or not at all, or leaving early
  • Side conversations
  • Interrupting
  • Complaining
  • Excessive negativity and personal attacks

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Topics: meeting design

A Guide to Holding Interviews Before a Conflict Resolution

May 25, 2018 by Tree Bressen in meeting design (5 minute read)

The Lucid Meetings team is thrilled to introduce Tree Bressen. Tree has been blessed with a calling to help groups function well. As a consultant and facilitator, her work focuses on alignment of human action towards purpose. Tree is also the founder of the nonprofit collective producer of Group Works: A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings and Other Gatherings. We use these cards in our own workshops, and have found them to be wonderfully valuable for encouraging dialogue with a group.
—Team Lucid

Most of the time, work hums along and people work out tensions as they arise. Sometimes, it’s not like that—sometimes things get really stuck. When relationships are broken (low trust, poor communication, inability to work together well), nothing else functions, and the whole work process slows to nearly nothing. For the people involved, unresolved conflicts cause a lot of suffering; fortunately that also means once the stuckness is cleared, those same humans experience vast relief. Often this also brings relief to others around them, who were being impacted too.

When people are at an impasse and need help working things out, sometimes a facilitator is asked to assist. The facilitator’s role is to help them find a path to a positive future, a path they have not reached on their own. When i* am asked to facilitate this type of situation, i’ve learned to conduct pre-meeting interviews in preparation for the conflict resolution session with the same diligence and care i bring to the later meeting. Here is an example of how such interviews can be conducted, and what practices build trust with each individual before tackling the difficult conversation in the group.

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Topics: meeting design

How to Create a Decision Matrix with Your Team (and why you need one!)

Jan 20, 2018 by Tammy Adams Spann in meeting design (4 minute read)

Introducing Tammy Spann
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest template designer, Tammy Adams Spann. We first met Tammy at a workshop she and David Spann conducted on decision making in meetings (a topic near and dear to our hearts) where they introduced Eric Coryell's Decision Matrix. We love the clarity the Decision Matrix brings to decision-making for leadership teams. We're thrilled Tammy agreed to share her process for helping teams get clear on how key decisions will be made by filling out your own Decision Matrix.  

Read on to learn how Tammy learned this technique and get her guide to using it in your organization.
— Team Lucid

 

Have you ever given your opinion and had it implemented as a decision? Worse yet, have you made a decision only to have it overridden by someone higher up the food chain?

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Topics: meeting design

The Latte and Learn Community of Practice Meeting (Fast, Easy, Useful)

Dec 14, 2017 by Elise Keith in meeting design (6 minute read)

Introducing Pilar Orti
The Lucid Meetings team is delighted to welcome our newest template designer, Pilar Orti. We’ve been following Pilar’s work for some time now. She is both a frequent collaborator of Lisette Sutherland’s and the director of Virtual not Distant. While preparing for an interview on Pilar’s podcast, we ran across her blog post about the Latte and Learn and invited her to share this process with the Lucid community. We’re thrilled that she agreed!
— Team Lucid

What does it mean to create a learning culture within your organization? Depending on your group’s size and complexity, a learning focus can take many forms including everything from full-blown certification coursework to the casual exchange of notes in chat. Somewhere in the middle of this range, there is a type of learning that is more focused and intentional than simply sharing notes, but much lighter and easier to pull together than a formalized training session.

The Latte and Learn process falls into this middle range, dedicating just 30 minutes for a team to learn something new from one of their colleagues. Here’s how it works.

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Topics: meeting design

A Periodic Table of Meetings (with Free Download)

Oct 30, 2017 by Elise Keith in behind the scenes, meeting design (8 minute read)

In the month since we published a taxonomy of the 16 Types of Business Meetings, we’ve heard from many people who say it’s given them a useful new perspective on how to approach their meetings. We’ve also been asked many times about the chart featured in that post, which has since been shared on social media over a thousand times.

(Admittedly, not as hot as a Beyoncé snapshot, but c’mon! This is a taxonomy of meeting types we’re talking about here.)

The original post is very long and details the process we used to define each type.

Missed the original? If you have an hour, go read it now! Otherwise, here are the high points:

  1. A meeting is not a meeting. If you want to run better meetings, you need to know the best way to run the kind of meetings you need to run. Generic best practices won't cut it.
  2. You can tell that one meeting is different from another based on these characteristics:
    • the intention, or purpose and desired outcomes,
    • the meeting format,
    • and the expected participation profile, or, who normally runs and who normally attends these kind of meetings.
  3. We organized and sorted and grouped and examined every kind of meeting we could find, and narrowed them all down to 16 distinct types of meetings.

Throughout that process, we knew that there were important relationships between different kinds of meetings, and that exploring these relationships added yet another layer of usefulness to the taxonomy. When you understand not just the types, but also the relationships between meeting types, it gets much easier to answer the key question: Is this meeting the meeting we need?

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Topics: behind the scenes, meeting design