Posts

Making Meetings Matter: New Rules and Cool Tools for Corporate Conversations in the Digital Age

MMM-Front4

I may be celebrating prematurely, but permit me just a bit of shameless self-promotion.

As I have mentioned many times previously, I’ve been working for the past year on this book about corporate conversations and, in particular, the settings in which most conversations take place: formal meetings.

The book is now in the hands of my publisher, Henry DeVries of Indie Books International; it’s due to be published in early January 2016. I can’t wait!

There’s lots of work still to do to make the book worthy of your attention, but I’m now concentrating on the second big job any author has: creating “buzz” and visibility. Writing the book is challenging enough, but getting the word out about it is just as important.

I’m going to be very upfront and open about that process, because I’m learning as I go, and I have this core belief that you will find the process as interesting as I do. I hope I’m right! Read more

Boundaries at Work: New Rules for Thriving in the Digital Age

MultitaskingLast week I wrote about the challenges of living in a “boundaryless” world – one in which we can (and do) bounce back and forth between work and non-work activities.

It is now common to communicate with colleagues and friends all over the world, to take care of personal needs in the middle of our work days, and to engage in work-related activities at all hours of the day and night.

(see “In a Boundaryless World, Peak Performance is More Difficult Than Ever”)

How many times have you been part of a global conference call at 4 or 5 AM local time, or completed a work memo and emailed it off at 10 PM? Read more

In a Boundaryless World, Peak Performance is More Difficult than Ever

I’m just back from a whirlwind two-day unplanned trip to New York City. I was invited to join a small group of entrepreneurs and futurists in a wide-ranging conversation about the future of work.

Our host, the Chief Marketing Officer of a Fortune-50 company, asked us to help him understand not just the way work is changing, but what kinds of challenges individuals and teams are experiencing today. He’s interested, for obvious reasons, in focusing his organization’s service offerings and value proposition on ways to help address those challenges and enhance his clients’ performance possibilities.

While there is no way I could even begin to summarize our high-energy, two-hour conversation, I was struck by one theme that came up several times:  Read more

Making Meetings Matter: Strengths-Based Teambuilding

Each of us approaches problems and relationships with a particular style, or from an individual point of view. There are dozens of personality and interpersonal style models (DISC, Myers-Briggs, and so on).

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.42.25 PMHowever, my favorite individual style model is based on the Clifton StrengthsFinder© assessment first defined by Marcus Buckingham and Donald. O. Clifton of the Gallup Organization. Two of the many books describing the model and how to apply it are well worth getting and devouring: Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton); and StrengthsQuest (Clifton and Anderson).

The StrengthsFinder model identifies 34 core talent themes that each of us has in some degree. More importantly, it assesses individual strengths and tendencies within each of those 34 dimensions, producing an individual talents profile.

The most important insight that Buckingham and his team brought to the search for peak performance Read more

Launching the Journey to Tomorrow: You Can’t Push a String

Goldfish jumping out of bowlThe best definition I’ve ever heard of effective leadership goes like this:

“A good leader doesn’t make people do what he (or she) wants; a good leader makes others want what (s)he wants.”

In other words, leadership is about engaging people’s hearts even more than their minds. If your staff shares your vision of what’s possible, understands why what’s possible is desirable, and shares your desire to make that vision come alive, they’ll do what they need to do to make it happen.

That all sounds good. However, in my experience that’s only the beginning. Read more

Rethinking Leadership: Death to Taylorism!

Magnifying glass on the word Redefine

I’ve been thinking and writing about leadership for a long time. Here’s why we should be having a national conversation about the need to redefine what kind of leadership we want and need – whether it’s in the White House, the corporate corner office, or the conference rooms where so many of us spend so much of our time at work.

For more than 150 years (and actually much longer than that) leadership has meant being in charge. Leaders took command and exercised control because they knew more than their subordinates, or they had more power. Originally, of course, power meant physical strength, or control over powerful resources, like armies or ships, and weapons. Or financial capital, or technical know-how.

Here is a brief (6 -minute) video summary of the ideas contained here. I recorded it this morning for a live Periscope broadcast. Note that the video is essentially a brief restatement of this post:

For over a century most organizational leaders embraced the concept of “Scientific Management” generally credited to Frederick Taylor. Taylor argued that the job of managers was to think, and the job of workers was to do. And anyone who challenged a manager’s directions was viewed as insubordinate. Read more

Periscope: Why are there so many bad meetings?

Earlier today I did my first live Periscope video broadcast. It was a reprise of a newsletter/blog post I wrote in early August (“Why are There So Many Bad Meetings?“).

Here is an unedited replay of the 10-minute Scope video:

I intend to produce simple, short video messages like this on a regular basis. In fact, right now my next Scope is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15, at 8:30 AM Pacific time. [continue reading...]

Honor Labor Day by Redefining Work and Leadership

Labor Day signLabor Day in the United States honors the American labor movement and the contributions to our economic and social well-being made by millions of American workers. It has also become a marker of the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. Most of us are now moving past vacations and casual work hours to a more serious and focused time at work. [continue reading...]

Don’t Stop Talking About Tomorrow: A Guide to Surviving the Future

conversations1How often do you talk with your colleagues about the future and how it will affect your organization?

As I have mentioned many, many times here and elsewhere, most leadership teams spend less than 3% of their collective time talking with each other about the future – of their company, their industry, and the world in general.

In my experience, most of us live day to day assuming that the future will be just like the recent past. We realize that there are some predictable trends, and that some things (like the weather) go through regular cycles, but for the most part we expect tomorrow to be similar to today.

Well, to be more accurate, we either expect sameness, or we are so overwhelmed by change, uncertainty, and innovation that we hunker down and live in fear that our lives are out of control. We worry – often rightfully so – about being blindsided by new products, new competitors, or new rules and regulations that put control of our businesses in someone else’s hands. And that kind of worry actually leads to believing, or at least hoping, that tomorrow will be just like today. Read more

A Cool Tool for Making Your Meetings Matter

Agenda!It may not feel cool, but…

Do you realize what a cool tool a meeting agenda is? An agenda is not just a wish list or a way to tell people what the meeting is intended to be about. When used right, your agenda is the most critical tool you have to ensure that your meeting is worthwhile, covers the right topics, and accomplishes its stated purpose.

An agenda is powerful way to avoid bad meetings (see “Why Are There So Many Bad Meetings?” for more on that painful topic). And in combination with the right meeting mindset (“Building a Meeting Mindset“) an agenda can be a multi-purpose tool for creating memorable meeting experiences.

I recently spoke with Bill T., a senior program manager at a well-known high-tech company, about his meeting management techniques. He uses the agenda for his weekly one-hour design review meetings as a primary planning tool as well as a way to enable 20+ software engineers to make quick decisions on a number of critical design issues. Read more