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Better Meetings - More Good Stuff from the Learning Maverick

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In this presentation, the Learning Maverick lays out important guidelines to help leaders get more done in meetings at less cost.

In this presentation, the Learning Maverick lays out important guidelines to help leaders get more done in meetings at less cost.

Published in: Business, Education, Technology

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  • 1. BETTER MEETINGSMore Good Stuff from The Learning Maverick © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 2. About this Booklet• Although I present this in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, this is really a booklet to be read and not something to be projected on a wall in a group setting. wrong right © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 3. About this Booklet• Although I present this in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, this is really a booklet to be read and not something to be projected on a wall in a group setting.• If you’d like others to read this, please send them a link via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, rather than distribute hard copies. I’m told that this will increase my ranking on Google and thus my chances of becoming rich and famous one day. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 4. About this Booklet• Although I present this in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, this is really a booklet to be read and not something to be projected on a wall in a group setting.• If you’d like others to read this, please send them a link via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, rather than distribute hard copies. I’m told that this will increase my ranking on Google and thus my chances of becoming rich and famous one day.• If you’d like to have a version of this booklet suitable to a group setting, or a cooler, more interactive version suitable for online self-study, just ask; you’ll find my contact info on the final slide. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 5. Your Objective• You will find this learning experience very helpful if your objective is to become better able to organize and facilitate meetings that accomplish more in less time. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 6. What’s at Stake• You’re probably not in the habit of spending your company’s money on things that bring no return. You might, however, be squandering thousands—or even tens of thousands—of dollars each year through bad meeting management habits. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 7. What’s at Stake• You’re probably not in the habit of spending your company’s money on things that bring no return. You might, however, be squandering thousands—or even tens of thousands—of dollars each year through bad meeting management habits.• Imagine that the average cost to the company of an hour of a participant’s time is $50. That means that the “bill” for a three-hour meeting of ten people is $1,500. As a good steward of your company’s resources, you want to ensure that it gets more than $1,500 dollars worth of bang for its 1,500 bucks. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 8. Why Meet at All?• As a general rule, only hold meetings when there are questions which can best be answered through group discussion. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 9. Why Meet at All?• As a general rule, only hold meetings when there are questions which can best be answered through group discussion.• As a general rule, don’t hold meetings if your objective is to disseminate information. Do it via email or postcard or carrier pigeon; if your audience can “get it” by reading it, don’t gather them together and read it to them. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 10. What if They Don’t Read It?• It happens that some of the people to whom you send information won’t read it. This is not a good reason to hold a meeting. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 11. What if They Don’t Read It?• It happens that some of the people to whom you send information won’t read it. This is not a good reason to hold a meeting.• If someone screws up because they didn’t “get the memo,” ask them nicely what prevented them from doing so and work together to ensure that the same obstacle won’t be in the road next time. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 12. What if They Don’t Read It?• It happens that some of the people to whom you send information won’t read it. This is not a good reason to hold a meeting.• If someone screws up because they didn’t “get the memo,” ask them nicely what prevented them from doing so and work together to ensure that the same obstacle won’t be in the road next time.• If someone comes up with lame excuses (“too busy.” “I forgot,” “I had a lot of stuff in my inbox that day”) for not having read their mail, ask them if they wish to remain in the group, and make it clear that reading their mail is a condition of membership. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 13. 13 Heads Aren’t Better Than One• The widely-held belief that a group will arrive at better answers to questions than would an individual is not grounded in solid research.• Here’s why: © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 14. 13 Heads Aren’t Better Than One• The widely-held belief that a group will arrive at better answers to questions than would an individual is not grounded in solid research.• Here’s why: • Group discussion often squelches individual contributions that are novel. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 15. 13 Heads Aren’t Better Than One• The widely-held belief that a group will arrive at better answers to questions than would an individual is not grounded in solid research.• Here’s why: • Group discussion often squelches individual contributions that are novel. • The garrulous members who consume most of the airtime during meetings often block more introverted members from contributing at all © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 16. Gunning for “Buy-in”• It’s a good idea to involve the people who will need to support decisions in the discussions that will generate those decisions. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 17. Gunning for “Buy-in”• It’s a good idea to involve the people who will need to support decisions in the discussions that will generate those decisions.• If there are 12 decisions to be made and 12 individuals are vested in all of them, by all means get everyone into the same room (actual or virtual) to hash everything out. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 18. Gunning for “Buy-in”• It’s a good idea to involve the people who will need to support decisions in the discussions that will generate those decisions.• If there are 12 decisions to be made and 12 individuals are vested in all of them, by all means get everyone into the same room (actual or virtual) to hash everything out.• Often, however, a given decision is generally of interest only to members of a subset of the whole. While these matters are being discussed in meetings of the whole, uninterested participants will often check-out mentally, making their attendance during that portion of the event a waste of time and money. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 19. An Alternative• An alternative to having every person in a group participate in making every decision that is before the group is to assign the decision making to an individual or constitute a sub-group. You will charge these individuals or groups with making decisions concerning assigned questions and communicating these decisions to you and other members of the larger group. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 20. An Alternative• An alternative to having every person in a group participate in making every decision that is before the group is to assign the decision making to an individual or constitute a sub-group. You will charge these individuals or groups with making decisions concerning assigned questions and communicating these decisions to you and other members of the larger group.• When the decisions made by sub-groups are laid out before non-sub-group members, you will encourage the latter to raise questions, but leave it to the sub-group members to decide whether to reopen their discussions. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 21. What about Relationship-Building• Those who say that bringing a group to work together in a room will strengthen relationships among them aren’t completely wrong. A member may build stronger relationships faster by working within a subgroup, however, than by scrabbling to contribute in a larger group setting. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 22. Communicate ASAP• Don’t wait until meetings of the whole to announce decisions reached by sub-groups. Have members of the sub-groups communicate their decisions to all as soon as they are reached. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 23. Communicate ASAP• Don’t wait until meetings of the whole to announce decisions reached by sub-groups. Have members of the sub-groups communicate their decisions to all as soon as they are reached.• Similarly, members of a sub-group that finds itself in need of involvement by others, should involve them immediately, not waiting to do so until the next meeting of the whole. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 24. Accountability• It is very difficult to hold a committee accountable. If you constitute sub-groups, make one person accountable for bringing back a decision, by a given deadline. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 25. Accountability• It is very difficult to hold a committee accountable. If you constitute sub-groups, make one person accountable for bringing back a decision, by a given deadline.• Be stern with sub-group leaders who fail to come through. Ask them forthrightly, “What help do you need to meet your commitments? Should I ask someone else to assume the leader’s role? Can I count on you next time?” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 26. Reinforce with Recognition• When individuals and sub-groups meet their commitments, be lavish with recognition and deliver this publicly, either via email or in the next meeting of the whole. If you put it in writing, copy members’ managers. • Your recognition will reinforce the commitment of your members to continue to act “rightly.” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 27. An Agenda for Action• You’ll be hosting some meetings of your whole group, of course. Your first responsibility as the meeting owner is to distribute what I’ll call an “Agenda for Action.” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 28. An Agenda for Action• You’ll be hosting some meetings of your whole group, of course. Your first responsibility as the meeting owner is to distribute what I’ll call an “Agenda for Action.”• Your Agenda for Action will consist of a list of questions to be answered during the meeting. These will be full sentences, not a list of nouns/topics “to be discussed.” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 29. An Agenda for Action• You’ll be hosting some meetings of your whole group, of course. Your first responsibility as the meeting owner is to distribute what I’ll call an “Agenda for Action.”• Your Agenda for Action will consist of a list of questions to be answered during the meeting. These will be full sentences, not a list of nouns/topics “to be discussed.”• The problem with giving attendees the traditional list of topics is that different members will tend to contribute whatever comes into their minds with respect to the topic, whether or not their thoughts are germane to the decisions to be made. This wastes time and generates confusion and even resentment. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 30. An Example• Here is an example of an Agenda for Action of a meeting of a group assembled to plan a company picnic. (For simplicity’s sake, I’m assuming here that no decisions have been delegated to individuals or subgroups.) 1. When will we have the picnic? 2. What number of attendees do we expect? 3. Where will we have the picnic? 4. What food, drinks, etc. will the company provide? 5. What equipment (coolers, grills, sporting gear) will we need? © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 31. Upstream, Downstream - Agenda• As you craft agendas and facilitate meetings, be conscious that some questions are “upstream” from others, meaning that the former must be answered before the latter can be answered. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 32. Upstream, Downstream - Agenda• As you craft agendas and facilitate meetings, be conscious that some questions are “upstream” from others, meaning that the former must be answered before the latter can be answered.• The sample agenda on the prior slide provides an example. The number of attendees must be decided—at least approximately—before the venue can be chosen: you don’t want to have 6 tables in a tiny park for a thousand attendees, or book Yankee Stadium for 19 people and a dog © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 33. Upstream, Downstream - Agenda• As you craft agendas and facilitate meetings, be conscious that some questions are “upstream” from others, meaning that the former must be answered before the latter can be answered.• The sample agenda on the prior slide provides an example. The number of attendees must be decided—at least approximately—before the venue can be chosen: you don’t want to have six tables in a tiny park for a thousand attendees, or book Yankee Stadium for 19 people and a dog• Keep the stream in mind when you compose your agenda. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 34. Upstream, Downstream - Facilitation• Keep the stream in mind also as you facilitate your meetings. Be ready to intervene in the discussion with comments and questions like these: • John, we decided earlier on Yankee Stadium and are now deciding what equipment will be needed. Do you feel strongly that we should go back upstream and reconsider the choice of venue? • Susan, I like the idea of setting up a Frisbee golf course, but the question, “What equipment do we need?” is, I think, downstream from the question, “Where shall we have the picnic?” How would you feel about holding back for a bit on the golf question? © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 35. Pulling Rank/Polling the Group• When someone in your meeting feels strongly that an upstream decision should be reconsidered, you don’t necessarily need to go there immediately, or at all. Instead, consider pulling rank or polling the group. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 36. Pulling Rank/Polling the Group• When someone in your meeting feels strongly that an upstream decision should be reconsidered, you don’t necessarily need to go there immediately, or at all. Instead, consider pulling rank or polling the group.• As the meeting owner, you have every right to say, “I hear you Stan, but our timetable is tight. I feel strongly that Yankee Stadium is a good choice and we need to continue to move forward through our other decisions. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 37. Pulling Rank/Polling the Group• When someone in your meeting feels strongly that an upstream decision should be reconsidered, you don’t necessarily need to go there immediately, or at all. Instead, consider pulling rank or polling the group.• As the meeting owner, you have every right to say, “I hear you Stan, but our timetable is tight. I feel strongly that Yankee Stadium is a good choice and we need to continue to move forward through our other decisions.• Another option is to poll the group. Say something like, “Stan feels strongly that we should return to x. Would anyone like to add their support to Stan? Who feels we should continue to move downstream?” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 38. New Questions• New questions will often be raised during discussion but you don’t necessarily have to admit them for discussion immediately. First, the group has—or you have—to make two decisions: • Should the matter be discussed at all? • When should the discussion be held relative to the other questions already in the stream? © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 39. New Questions• New questions will often be raised during discussion but you don’t necessarily have to admit them for discussion immediately. First, the group has—or you have—to make two decisions: • Should the matter be discussed at all? • When should the discussion be held relative to the other questions already in the stream?• If the answers to these questions aren’t immediately apparent to the group, ask the other members for their input before diving into an unplanned discussion. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 40. Never Forget• If a new question is voiced but the group decides to address it downstream, be sure to write down the question and the name of the person who raised it. Be sure that it appears in a future agenda, or the member in question will be disappointed, or even resentful. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 41. When the Going Gets Tough• You will sometimes need to intervene when the group seems blocked by an apparently insurmountable obstacle or when there are such strong differences of opinion that neither side seems ready to yield. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 42. When the Going Gets Tough• You will sometimes need to intervene when the group seems blocked by an apparently insurmountable obstacle or when there are such strong differences of opinion that neither side seems ready to yield.• In these cases, consider pushing the matter to a back burner and attending instead to other questions on the agenda. If that’s not an option, make an executive decision to go one way or the other, but make an offer to meet offline with the contentious individuals and reconsider your decision if warranted. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 43. Who, What, When• Most of the decisions you make together with your members create Action Items which together constitute your Action Plan. To be most useful, these items need to specify who, what and when. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 44. Who, What, When• Most of the decisions you make together with your members create Action Items which together constitute your Action Plan. To be most useful, these items need to specify who, what and when.• Here are a couple of examples: • John (who) will locate a source for bocce balls and have costs for us (what) by the end of the week (when.) • Louise (who) will hire a polka band (what) by the 4th (when.) © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 45. Who, What, When• Most of the decisions you make together with your members create Action Items which together constitute your Action Plan. To be most useful, these items need to specify who, what and when.• Here are a couple of examples: • John (who) will locate a source for bocce balls and have costs for us (what) by the end of the week (when.) • Louise (who) will hire a polka band (what) by the 4th (when.)• Leaving who, what and when unspecified dramatically increases the likelihood of slippage. You’ll hear, “Oh, was I supposed to do that?” or “You needed that today?” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 46. After the Meeting• As soon as possible after a meeting, distribute your updated Action Plan with a cover message that urges recipients to review their commitments carefully and let you know immediately if they are in any doubt that they’ll meet a deadline. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 47. After the Meeting• As soon as possible after a meeting, distribute your updated Action Plan with a cover message that urges recipients to review their commitments carefully and let you know immediately if they are in any doubt that they’ll meet a deadline. • Don’t fail to use this opportunity to recognize members who have met prior commitments. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 48. Between Meetings• If it will be a week or more until your next meeting, check- in a few days before the meeting with any individuals or sub-groups whose decisions must be made before the whole group convenes. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 49. Between Meetings• If it will be a week or more until your next meeting, check- in a few days before the meeting with any individuals or sub-groups whose decisions must be made before the whole group convenes.• A nice way to do this is to say, “I know you’ll have the cost on the bocce balls for us Wednesday, Arturo, and I have that on the agenda. Are there any new questions that I should also include on the agenda?” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 50. Between Meetings• If it will be a week or more until your next meeting, check- in a few days before the meeting with any individuals or sub-groups whose decisions must be made before the whole group convenes.• A nice way to do this is to say, “I know you’ll have the cost on the bocce balls for us Wednesday, Arturo, and I have that on the agenda. Are there any new questions that I should also include on the agenda?”• Be sure to have the agenda for an upcoming meetings in the hands of members at least 24 business hours in advance. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 51. Seeking Feedback• Despite your good intentions, someone in your group may become frustrated with you over the way you handle a particular matter, or your performance overall. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 52. Seeking Feedback• Despite your good intentions, someone in your group may become frustrated with you over the way you handle a particular matter, or your performance overall.• Unfortunately, people tend to nurse grievances privately. That means you have to be proactive in soliciting feedback between meetings. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 53. Seeking Feedback• Despite your good intentions, someone in your group may become frustrated with you over the way you handle a particular matter, or your performance overall.• Unfortunately, people tend to nurse grievances privately. That means you have to be proactive in soliciting feedback between meetings.• Don’t think that saying, “Please let me know if you have any concerns,” will do the trick. Instead, call one or two members between meetings and ask these questions: • What could improve our meetings? • What can I, personally, do or stop doing that will help us be more effective as a group? © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 54. Preparing Participants• If you follow my suggestions, be sure and let your group members know what is expected of them, before they come together for your first meeting. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 55. Preparing Participants• If you follow my suggestions, be sure and let your group members know what is expected of them, before they come together for your first meeting.• Concepts like “upstream/downstream” and “who, what and when” will be hard for some to fully understand at first, Doing what you can to prepare your group’s members to go with the flow will minimize the number of times they will feel that they’ve “done it the wrong way.” © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 56. Ground Rules• Something else to give your members before the first meeting is a list of proposed ground rules for discussions. These might include items such as… • No interruptions • Seek first to understand, then to be understood. • Cell phones off. • No side conversations © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 57. Emphasize Progress• Frequently remind members of a standing group how far they’ve come and how far they have yet to go. Be specific about the contributions members have made and why they’ve been important. • Don’t use precious meeting time for this sort of speech- making. Put it in writing—and copy everyone you can think of with a stake in the outcome. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 58. And in Conclusion• You’ve learned here… • Why expressing agenda items as questions will bring greater focus to discussions. • Delegating some decisions to sub-groups will help minimize wasting the time of members in the larger group. • Why Action items must specify Who will act, What they will do and by When they will do it. • Why members of a group must be held accountable for meeting their commitments to other members. © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 59. Thanks!• Thanks for reading this little treatise. I’ve always liked visiting (your town) and spending a little time with you, (your name.)• If you’d like to provide feedback or tell a bit about your own experiences, I’d be delighted to hear from you. You can reach me through several channels: • dennisafahey@maverickld.com • Learningmaverick.com (WordPress) • @dennisafahey (Twitter) © 2012 Maverick Learning Designs
  • 60. Bye, now!

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