Posts

Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective

change-management meetingI’ve been studying and writing about organizational meetings for years. And I’ve offered lots of tips, techniques, and “rules” for making your meetings matter – to the organization, to your staff, and to yourself.

But I haven’t spent enough time discussing why making meetings matter is so important. In other words, what is the business case for changing the way you design and lead meetings?

To do that we have to look at the two dimensions of effectiveness:

  • Improving outcomes:  better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings, leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

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Eight Ways to Make Your Meetings Matter

If it was a meeting that mattered – an experience you want to have again – then it included a meaningful conversation. As the meeting wound up you were incredibly energized and ready to do something important, and/or you were disappointed it was over.

A meaningful conversation changes you in important ways. You see the world differently, or you have new insights into a problem you’ve been struggling with, or you know someone in a far more personal way.

As I think back on memorable meetings I’ve been part of, it seems clear that the participants were speaking openly and honestly, and with respect for each other’s experiences and intentions. We were all “in the moment” exploring a topic we cared deeply about.

Those are clues about what drives a conversation from good to great. But they are only clues, and they are only my personal insights. To broaden my understanding of what makes a good conversation I’ve asked many people I respect and admire to share with me how they think about good conversations. Read more

Making Meetings Matter: Leading from Anywhere

Making Meetings MatterRecently I’ve been offering tips and techniques for making meetings more productive – and more popular.

A few weeks ago I listed 10 tips for meeting leaders (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”), and then on May 30 I shared a reaction to that first article that was largely inspired by Bob Leek of Multnomah County, Oregon (“Making Meetings Matter: Distributed Leadership”).

Those ideas, in turn, sparked a comment and a question from Steven Beary, Principal and CFO of The Beary Group. Steven observed that Bob’s suggestion to “call for adjournment” if a meeting isn’t going well relies on Roberts Rules of Order, which is a common source of principles for leading public-sector meetings. As Steven pointed out, in most private-sector organizations that kind of pushing back or “taking over” a meeting could well be seen as insubordination, and in any case could easily become a “career-limiting move.”

Steven then asked the following question: Read more

Making Meetings Matter: Distributed Leadership

business people in meeting

Last week I offered ten tips for making a meeting flow smoothly (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”). They were clearly directed at meeting leaders who have responsibilities for designing, convening, and directing meetings.

 

Bob Leek, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Multnomah County, Oregon, responded to that article by observing that, while meeting leaders are nominally “in charge” of their meetings, individual participants also contribute directly to the quality of the meeting conversations.

Bob’s suggestions for participant leadership are so compelling that I want to share them more broadly. Here, with only minor editing to clarify his perspectives, is Bob’s advice for meeting participants: Read more

Is This Meeting Necessary?

Group Meeting

There is no question that the future of work is centered around meetings. Meetings are the way people share ideas, learn from each, collaborate to produce new knowledge, solve problems, and make decisions.

Meetings are central to the future of work, yet most people I talk to complain that their meetings are horribly mismanaged most of the time, and are all too often a painful waste of their time.

That’s why I am on a crusade to make every meeting matter.

The first step to making your meetings matter is to be more intentional about them. And that starts with being exceptionally clear about why you are calling the meeting and what purpose you want it to accomplish.

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, a meeting is not a meeting is not a meeting. Read more

Making Meetings Matter: The First Step

Meeting ImageThe first step in making your meetings and other conversations matter is to be more intentional about them.

However, because every one of us engages in work-related conversations of all kinds every day, it is highly unrealistic to suggest that you spend time thinking through every conversation before it takes place.

So let’s focus on formal meetings. Every meeting you set up and hold consumes scarce corporate resources – time and money. Don’t walk into any meeting or significant conversation without thinking through the basic variables, being clear about your purpose and expectations for the meeting, and sharing those expectations with the invited participants.

What information will you share during the meeting? What information do you want to learn? What decisions will be made? What commitments do you need, and from whom? How will you get to where you need to be? Read more

Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age

mmm180x490pxsmallAre you ready to become a smart meeting leader?

I invite you to join me on Tuesday, April, 26, at 4 PM Eastern time, for a free one-hour online conversation focused on “Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age.”

You can register here:

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7124403613916859139
Webinar ID: 146-058-459

In this inaugural offering I will identify why a new mindset is essential, describe the “P4+” model of meeting leadership I’ve developed, discuss how it produces meetings that are both productive and popular, and offer practical tips for engaging your meeting participants in creative, constructive conversations.

Participating in this program will enable you to:

  • Understand how the digital age differs from the industrial age;
  • Know why collaborative leadership is so central to success in the digital age;
  • Describe the behaviors of collaborative leaders;
  • Ask questions that draw out the ideas, insights, and experiences of others; and
  • Bring your meetings to an effective ending that achieves your desired outcomes.

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Orchestrating Powerful Conversations: Asking Questions

qmark1If you accept the idea that a meeting leader’s role is to orchestrate the conversation, or to sense and guide, then pay very close attention to what every participant is saying, and what emotions they are expressing. But listen for understanding, not to judge or evaluate what is being said.

As conversation expert Judith Glaser explains in Conversational Intelligence (link is to Amazon.com),

When we listen to connect we open and expand the space, allowing [the speakers’] aspirational [selves] to emerge. [When] we think out loud with them, and share our dreams with them and co-create with them we all experience ourselves in a new way.

Ask penetrating, open-ended questions, and add follow-up questions that extend your understanding. In the back of your mind you might question the validity of a statement, or be upset about a negative tone of voice. But remember that as the meeting leader you want to create an environment where everyone feels safe and free to express themselves, no matter what the content of their message (within the bounds of civility, of course). Read more

Meetings are the Heart of the Future of Work

covermeetingI was recently interviewed about Making Meetings Matter by Dr. Jac Fitz-Enz (“Interviewing Jim Ware”). In the course of our conversation he asked me why I had moved from my long-term focus on the future of work to something as “mundane” as corporate meetings.

Dr. Jac’s question caught me a bit off guard, but it made me think. Here’s his question and my response:

Dr. Jac:

Jim what took you from the lofty heights of futuring to the more mundane issues around meetings? There’s no question that we all suffer from meetingitis, but what drew you to it?

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David Coleman reviews “Making Meetings Matter”

David Coleman, the founder and executive director of Collaborative Strategies, Inc., has just published a highly complimentary review of Making Meetings Matter. It appears on CMSWire.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Collaboration and telecommunications company Fuze correlated data that shows “15 percent of an organization’s time is spent in meeting.” A Bain report echoed these findings. On average, 11 million meetings took place in the US every day in 2015. 

Another study calculates that $37 billion is lost due to unproductive meetings every year.

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