Un-Boring Meetings

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Extended Cut of my Alibis for Interaction 2016 masterclass on "hacking the meeting"

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Un-Boring Meetings

  1. 1. un-boring meetings Sebastian Deterding (@dingstweets) Alibis for Interaction November 11, 2016 c b
  2. 2. chapter 1 Introduction
  3. 3. are meetings boring?
  4. 4. big, long, informational department meetings booooooo-ring (in case you wondered)
  5. 5. constant, small in-team ‘meetings’ during production not boring at all
  6. 6. when are meetings boring?
  7. 7. Meetings are boring when we don’t give or receive something we find relevant. observation
  8. 8. so how do we cut straight to the relevant bits?
  9. 9. we can’t. teaser
  10. 10. the problem is not how we do meetings. it’s that we do them. teaser
  11. 11. “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” eliel saarinen
  12. 12. there are organisational contexts that make meetings both (1) unavoidably boring and (2) unavoidable. teaser
  13. 13. how do we redesign organisational contexts to avoid doing (unavoidably boring) meetings? the real question
  14. 14. but first, some hygiene
  15. 15. meeting design does matter* * Links at the end
  16. 16. meetings≈games: goals+rules+players+material define possible results
  17. 17. most meeting literature reiterates the same basic rules with the same clear goals One defined purpose that only a meeting can achieve clear rules The right and tight agenda with time boxes, participants, roles, activities clear feedback Ongoing visual documentation, record- keeping of decisions, actions, insights sportspersonship Commitment and mutual care basic meeting result in mind
  18. 18. chapter 2 Shared ground, or: Why meetings must be boring
  19. 19. 1. To share & deliberate information & concerns 2. To deliberate, make & share decisions why do we meet? 3. To solve problems 4. To nurture social relations • getting to know each other • being seen • catching up • … Officially recognised Workshops are better formats Often an inofficial agenda, though meetings are poor tools to achieve it
  20. 20. All I know All you know What’s relevant
  21. 21. What I know is relevant
  22. 22. What you know is relevant
  23. 23. What we know is relevant
  24. 24. extending shared ground
  25. 25. ? but what if we don’t know what we already know?
  26. 26. ? i’ll tell you stuff i didn’t know you know or find irrelevant
  27. 27. ? you’ll tell me stuff you didn’t know i know or find irrelevant
  28. 28. ? and if we both come with colleagues who share ground with us …
  29. 29. “Some of you will already be familiar with this, but …” “This may not be relevant to everyone here, but …” common give-aways
  30. 30. what matters is mutually known shared ground !
  31. 31. game jam: small, co-located project team Continuous incidental info-sharing Continuous shared decision-making Many quick, focused 1-on-1 conversations Large known shared ground !
  32. 32. uni: big, dispersed, differentiated org Infrequent cross-group info-sharing Unclear cross-group decision-making Few, long, oversharing many- to-many meetings ?Small/unknown shared ground
  33. 33. The larger, more dispersed, and functionally differentiated the host organisation, … the less frequent incidental information-sharing, … the more unclear decision-making authority, … the more participants at the meeting (3+), … … the more meeting participants are structurally predisposed to say and hear things they find irrelevant. … the smaller the known shared ground,
  34. 34. chapter 3 Accountability, or: Why we still meet
  35. 35. if shared ground was all … … we could do it by e-mail … or wiki … and we all just read or skip as needed.* * a.k.a. “knowledge management”
  36. 36. and then …
  37. 37. “Sorry, I didn’t see that e-mail, maybe it landed in my spam folder/ you know my inbox/…”
  38. 38. accountability in real life: legal serving
  39. 39. accountability in real life: witnesses and signatures
  40. 40. accountability in digital life: read receipt
  41. 41. to act, we need accountable shared ground mutual presence I know You knowthat You know that I know that etc.
  42. 42. “Well you can’t say you didn’t know.” “You were at the meeting. You had the chance to say something then.” common give-aways
  43. 43. 1. Meetings are unavoidably boring in groups with little known shared ground and … 2. we can’t ditch meetings because we need accountable information and decision-sharing. 3. Ergo, despair? what we learned so far
  44. 44. chapter 4 Advanced meeting avoidance
  45. 45. 1. Meetings are unavoidably boring in groups with little known shared ground and … 2. we can’t ditch meetings because we need accountable information and decision-sharing. 3. Ergo, despair? hack #1: increase known shared ground
  46. 46. hack #1: increase known shared ground social streams colocation delegation to teams
  47. 47. 1. Meetings are unavoidably boring in groups with little known shared ground and … 2. we can’t ditch meetings because we need accountable information and decision-sharing. 3. Ergo, despair? hack #2: institute alternative accountable sharing practices
  48. 48. hack #2: institute alternative accountable sharing practices purpose Social streams, newsletters, … nice-to-know information accountable information Read receipt black boards simple decision Doodle.com informed decision Silent briefing problem solving nurturing social ties Workshop Alibis 2017 :) ???
  49. 49. chapter 5 Summary
  50. 50. good meeting rules make meetings more productive and less boring …
  51. 51. ? but with unknown shared ground, we’re bound to bore each other.
  52. 52. and in big, disperse, differentiated organisations, and in groups of 3+, unknown shared ground is unavoidable. ?
  53. 53. we stick to meetings because they are our default for producing accountability in organisations
  54. 54. so: meet less (boringly) by establishing more known shared ground … social streams colocation delegation to teams
  55. 55. … and institute alternative ways of achieving accountability … purpose Social streams, newsletters, … nice-to-know information accountable information Read receipt black boards simple decision Doodle.com informed decision Silent briefing problem solving nurturing social ties Workshop Alibis 2017 :) ??? (or other purposes you care about).
  56. 56. sebastian@codingconduct.cc @dingstweets codingconduct.cc thank you.

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