March 12, 2012

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MMM coverI am both pleased and proud that Jim Horan, the creator of the One Page Business Plan®, wrote a Foreword for my new book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age (now due to be published on or about February 25).

In fact, I liked the Foreword so much that I am sharing it with all of you today. Here it is, in its entirety:

 

The nature of conversation and communication has changed dramatically. We find ourselves communicating faster, more frequently, over greater distances, and with many more people. Yet we seem to be less effective.

Why is that so? Because of technology every business is now doing business globally; there are almost no meaningful geographic boundaries any more. Yes, there are still a few basically local businesses – the barbershop, the nail salon, the local farmers market. But almost everybody else is now doing business regionally, nationally, and internationally.

We are also starting up businesses at a much faster rate. There is an expectation that a business can go from startup to scale-up in a much shorter period of time. [click to continue…]

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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. [click to continue…]

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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. [click to continue…]

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Working RemotelyOne of my earliest studies of work patterns indicated that on average knowledge workers were spending only about 35 percent of their work time inside their assigned corporate facility. They were spending almost as much time working out of home offices, and the remainder in “Third Places” like coffee shops, libraries, public parks, hotels, airports, and planes, trains, and automobiles.

Today, according to Forrester Research, more than thirty-four million U.S. workers are spending one or more days a week in nontraditional work locations. That’s over 24 percent of a nonfarm workforce that currently totals approximately 140 million. Forrester predicts that by the end of 2016 the distributed workforce could reach 63 million, or over 40% of the total nonfarm workforce. And it’s worth pointing out that many agricultural workers are also highly dependent on mobile technologies, even if we don’t normally think of them as part of the “remote” workforce.

Why is workforce mobility growing so rapidly and becoming the accepted way of working in so many industries? [click to continue…]

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Know The RulesMost of us today spend more time in meetings with people who are somewhere else than we do with our colleagues down the hall. And while most of the “rules” for leading face-to-face meetings also apply equally well to distributed meetings, the situation is clearly different.

In many distributed team situations the members live far away from each other and/or the central office. They may never have met in person, or they may see each other only occasionally.

When team members are not co-located, they typically have relatively independent personal lives and social-support systems. Realistically, they just don’t have a lot in common beyond their work. They go to different churches, synagogues, and mosques; they participate in different local town events; their children attend different schools and participate in different sports programs. And they just don’t bump into each other at the grocery store or on commuter trains and buses.

If you are leading a distributed team you need to take that reality into account, and to plan and lead your conference calls differently than you do when everyone is in the same room.

Here are five simple rules that will make your distributed meetings both productive and popular: [click to continue…]

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Happy new year's puppy.

It’s that time of year; all of us are focusing on the future and defining new goals for the new year. If you are like me you want to use the start of the year as a platform for raising your sights and becoming more successful, more likable, healthier, and better looking (might as well include that while we’re at it).

But if you are like most people, a month from now you will probably be discouraged, depressed, and angry at how you’ve failed once again to achieve those lofty goals. Committing to and then not achieving New Year’s resolutions has become a rather unpleasant annual ritual.

Well, I have one overarching resolution this year (which I fully intend to accomplish):  it is not to make resolutions I won’t achieve. This year I’m focusing on being realistic; for me, getting half a loaf (or even a single slice of bread) is a whole lot better than going for the whole thing and ending up with nothing. [click to continue…]

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The Shortest Day

December 21, 2015

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In celebration of the Winter Solstice:

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.

By Susan Cooper Cronyn, written for the Christmas Revels

One of the most meaningful holiday celebrations that our family has enjoyed for over 30 years has been the Christmas Revels, a multi-denominational and multi-cultural musical celebration of the Winter Solstice (December 22, of course).

The Revels were founded by Jack Langstaff; they were first performed at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and at Sanders Theater on the Harvard University Campus in the late 1970’s. The Revels are now performed by local groups in many cities across North America every December – including at the Scottish Rites Theater in Oakland, where we have attended the Revels for the last 20+ years.

And so I extend to all my future of work friends the same best wishes for a wondrous Winter Solstice and a joyous new year.

Welcome Yule!

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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. [click to continue…]

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Why Meetings Matter

December 7, 2015

People Sleeping During Presentation“A meeting is an indispensable tool – if you don’t want to get anything done.”

                – John Kenneth Galbraith

As Fast Company founder Alan Webber pointed out over twenty years ago, conversation is at the very heart of knowledge-based work. Yet most of us don’t recognize how dependent we are on conversations for learning, for making sense of our experiences, for building relationships, for innovation, and for sorting out how we feel about ourselves and our work.

The beauty of the way knowledge-based organizations operate is that the more engaged – and the more respected – workers are, the more productive they are, and the happier their customers are as well. And almost all successful organizations today are knowledge-based; even retail stores and factories depend on people who are well-educated, computer-literate, and self-directed.

The best way to improve the work experience – and to enhance productivity, increase engagement, and make work fun again – is to change the way those meetings we spend hours and hours sitting through are designed, led, and experienced. [click to continue…]

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