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Making Meetings Matter: An Overview

MMM cover adaptationAre you frustrated by all the unfocused, boring meetings you have to sit through?

Do the meetings you attend produce lasting solutions to the challenges you face?

Or do you and your staff waste precious hours at work sitting through meetings that don’t seem to matter?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I want to get you out of the unproductive meeting trap that so many organizations have fallen into.

Technology now connects us with each other and with the information we need like never before.

But most meetings still unfold the same way they have for centuries. We haven’t adapted the way we meet to the realities of the new digital economy.

That’s the beginning of a 2 ½-minute video overview of my new book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age. Read more

If Something is Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Wrong

What? WaLet's do something wrong handwritten designit a minute! Is that a typo? Am I encouraging you to do good things badly?

No, it’s not a typo. And I am definitely not calling for making mistakes on purpose.

Let me explain. I’ve just returned from the annual Winter Conference of the National Speakers Association, of which I am a proud member.

I spent the last three days with about 300 other professional speakers in Austin, Texas. The entire conference was devoted to learning, growth, innovation, reinvention, and change (and we managed to Keep Austin Weird – that wasn’t hard for us to accomplish). Special kudos to conference c0-chairs Gary Rifkin, CSP, Cavett Award, and Christie Ward, CSP. It was an incredible program. 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

The Four Dimensions of a Successful Meeting

Smiling interview panel holding score cards

How do you know your meeting has been successful?

This question came up during one of the research interviews for my new book (Making Meetings Matter: How Successful Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age), and I’ve been pondering it for some time.

At one level the answer is straightforward; it depends on how well, and how completely, the meeting achieved your initial purpose(s). If you set a goal of reaching a group decision, or designing a new marketing campaign, or resolving a budget conflict, and you achieve that purpose, then it’s easy to say the meeting was successful.

Or was it? Like all other human experience, meetings have multiple outcomes and consequences, and the quality of the group’s decision – or invention, or problem resolution – may not meet your expectations, even it was adequate for the situation.

More importantly, you may have made progress even if you didn’t achieve your ultimate goal. Read more

Three Simple Rules for Leading Constructive Change

Concept of leadership.

The best definition I’ve ever heard of effective leadership goes something like this:

A good leader doesn’t make people do what he (or she) wants; a good leader makes others want what the leader 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. Show them the future, share your passion about the journey, and get out of their way (but stay close by in case they need coaching or advice).

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

Here’s to Holiday Conversations that Matter

Holly_000018403234XSmallThis is the time of year when most of us slow down, gather with friends and family, focus on the blessings in our lives, decorate our homes, and celebrate life lessons emanating from whichever deity we worship.

It can be a wonderful time, but it can also be incredibly stressful as we all too often find ourselves engaged in heated, frustrating conversations about important personal and professional issues that all too often divide us instead of uniting us.

This year, 2015, makes celebration especially difficult. Just about every country around the world has suffered through far too many natural disasters and acts of willful violence, to say nothing of fear-mongering and callous refusals (at least here in the United States) to accept and protect the victims of violence who seek refuge.

But I believe the difficulty we seem to have engaging in respectful conversations about important issues is an even deeper tragedy. Read more

Join me at WorkTech15 West Coast in San Francisco on December 2

WORKTECH15-West-Coast-Marketing-Image2-720x305WorkTech is one of the best one-day opportunities you can find anywhere for learning the latest insights about the future of work and networking with fellow workplace futurists. And if you register at this link  as a friend of The Future of Work…unlimited you will get a $100 discount off the registration fee.

Phillip Ross and his Unwired Ventures team always assemble a mind-bending and eye-opening program filled with success stories, thought leaders, and provocative insights. Read more

Meeting Experiences: Survey Results

Team CollaboratingLast week I asked my readers to complete a brief survey to help me understand the kinds of meetings you participate in and how you feel about them. Many thanks to those of you who responded and shared your experiences.

While the number of participants is too small for me to claim any statistical validity, I nevertheless believe the trends and patterns are interesting, and I want to share a few of them here, along with some thoughts about what they mean.

For starters, it appears that this group is generally representative of middle to senior managers. The respondents were predominantly HR and Facilities functional leaders, based in the United States, and averaging a bit over 50 years old. The group is evenly split between men and women. The age and seniority data suggest that these are experienced people, presumably with significant leadership responsibilities. Read more

Meetings: The Good, the Bad, and the Awful

People in a Meeting

I have been studying and writing about meetings and other corporate conversations for many years.

My understanding of how meetings work and my “rules” for leading meetings that matter are based on a combination of personal experiences (both good and bad) leading and attending hundreds of meetings, lots of formal research, and many insightful stories I’ve heard from colleagues.

But now I want to refresh my understanding of what is actually going on. The digitally enhanced and richly interconnected world we live in today creates new challenges and new opportunities for designing effective meetings.

While I don’t question for a minute the value of all those personal stories I’ve heard and the wisdom other experts, I want to enhance our collective understanding by compiling and sharing a wider range of stories and of actual data about what meetings are like in 2015 and how effective they actually are. 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