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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

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?

Read more

A Debate is not a Discussion, and a Discussion is not a Dialogue

Debate PodiumsWith all the presidential candidate debates filling up the airwaves recently, it’s time to think about what makes for a good conversation.

Regrettably, we are not seeing any significant examples of memorable conversations in the public so-called discourse.

I thought it might help to spend a few minutes thinking about what does make a conversation both memorable and meaningful.

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. Read more

Five Reasons There are so Many Bad Meetings

Making Meetings Matter: coverNote: This article is a brief excerpt from Chapter Two of my new book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age (link is to the book’s page on Amazon.com).

There don’t seem to be any definitive statistics about how many meetings are held every day, but the estimates I have seen (and recalculated for myself) suggest that there are somewhere between eleven and twenty-four million corporate meetings a day in the United States alone. Even though that is a wide range, I am confident that there at least four billion meetings a year here in the U.S.!

However, as I am fond of saying, no one I know is dying for that next meeting to start.  Read more

Leadership: What’s New?

leadership

It’s been said that leadership is the most studied and least understood of all subjects in the business world. There are thousands of books about leadership, and just about as many keynote speakers, workshop facilitators, and pundits who claim to have “the” formula for leadership success.

But in spite of all that there is absolutely no easy pathway to being an effective leader. Part of the trouble is that leadership is an all-encompassing activity, required in so many different situations, that there is no single “right way.”

It may be true for all time that one plus one equals two, and that iron is heavier than water, but if you are seeking that kind of certainty about how to lead, I guarantee your search will never end. Read more

“Strength in Numbers” Published by Huffington Post

huffpo

My latest article on collaborative leadership, “Strength in Numbers: Growing Power by Sharing It,” was just published by The Huffington Post. It has received very positive reviews from a number of people whose judgment I deeply respect. [continue reading...]

Strength in Numbers: Growing Power by Sharing It

strength in numbers

Image: redbubble.com

Forgive me for this: I can’t resist.

I’m writing this note in the midst of San Francisco Bay Area’s giddy euphoria over the Golden State Warriors winning the National Basketball Association Championship for the first time in 40 years (Moses had nothing on us).

Yes, it’s a moment to gloat and rejoice. But it’s also an experience filled with lessons for business leaders. If there is one common theme running through all the newspaper columns and the speeches about the Warriors’ victory, it is how selfless the team members – and the coaching staff – have been all season long.

Yes, Stephen Curry was the league’s Most Valuable Player for the season. And he won the All-Star three-point shooting contest. He’s a genuine superstar – and he is certainly the team’s day-in-day-out leader on and off the court. But he is also genuinely humble. Read more

Designing the Future: The Role of Deliberate Diversity

Cornell_logo2-1s7ocw0I’ve just returned from a Cornell University class reunion that reminded me of several very important principles that have guided most of my work and my life since I was an undergraduate there fifty years ago.

Today I want to share one of many important insights that emerged out of three days of lectures, conversations, meals, and other on-campus experiences that are better left unmentioned. I have a deep and renewed appreciation that I am who I am today because of my seven years as a Cornell undergraduate and graduate student.

Cornell University is an unusual – and remarkably diverse – institution.

Cornell was founded in 1865 (shortly after the end of the Civil War) when Ezra Cornell created the campus by donating his farmland on the hills above Ithaca, New York, and bringing to life his vision of “an institution where any person could find instruction in any study.” Read more

How Can I Manage Them When I Can’t See Them?

Happy entrepreneur working with a phone and laptop in a coffee shop in the streetAs early as 2002 one of my earliest studies of work patterns indicated that on average knowledge workers were spending only about 35% of their work time inside their assigned corporate facility. They were spending another 30% of their time working out of home offices, and the remainder in “Third Places” like coffee shops, libraries, public parks, hotels, and airports.

Think about that: a full two-thirds of knowledge work now takes place outside of corporate facilities. That sounds like a strikingly large number, but I and many others have conducted numerous studies clearly demonstrating that organizational work today is widely dispersed across many different kinds of locations. Most of us today act as if it doesn’t matter whether the people we are in conversation with are across a desk, across the room, across town, or on another continent.

Yet one of the most common complaints I hear about letting local employees work remotely even just a day or two a week is “How can I manage them if I can’t see them?” Read more

The Way We Were: Why the Future of Work Will Be So Different

Future Exit Sign 000018627375XSmallWe have just celebrated Memorial Day weekend in the United States. It has been an opportunity to reflect on our good fortune as a country, but more importantly to give thanks for the millions of servicemen and servicewomen who sacrificed their lives to protect us in way too many wars.

But this time of pausing and reflecting also got me thinking about how the working environments where most of us spend most of our waking hours have changed over the past twenty years – and will change even more going forward.

Those of us of a certain age can remember when our families sat down in front of the big box in our living rooms that brought us the 6 o’clock evening news. We shared that experience with our neighbors near and far; most of the country absorbed that information at the same time, and from one or the other of the three major networks that brought us all the television news and entertainment.

And most of us had one telephone somewhere in the front hall or living room; but we only used it for short, functional conversations with our neighbors and nearby relatives (calls were billed by the minute, after all). Once a year we might call a distant grandparent for a short “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Holidays” message; long distance calls were prohibitively expensive and the sound was often tinny and full of static.

In short, we didn’t have much choice in how we got our information or stayed in touch with out-of-town family and friends. Our world was relatively limited.

And the way we worked was very similar. Read more