Making Meetings Matter

2016 year calendar. September calendar on a white background. 3d renderingRemember that old song, “I’ll See You in September”? Made popular by a 60’s group called “The Happenings” (who are still going strong), it was a melancholy farewell between two lovers at the beginning of a summer vacation that was splitting them apart. The lyrics included this verse:

 

See you in September
See you when the summer’s through
Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)
Saying goodbye at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)
Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)
Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)

Well, right now September is this Thursday (!). Summer is officially over next Monday (Labor Day in the United States), and those of us in North America and Europe are gearing up for a busy fall that will undoubtedly unfold at a furious pace. Of course, summer is no longer the slow, lazy-hazy days it used be, either.

But my point is simple: fall is a time of year when we are more energized, more focused, and more ambitious. We return from our summer vacations and office slow-downs ready to “hit the ground running.” Most of us are committed to making progress on all those To-Do lists and business goals we’ve been avoiding for too long. [click to continue…]

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leadership with a magnifier on top

There is lots of attention being paid these days to ethnic and religious differences, to income inequality, to generational differences, and to social and cultural polarization.

Recently I have been thinking a great deal about millennials as representatives of a vague but vastly transformed future. Many observers and pundits find that future exciting and encouraging, while others find it depressing.

No matter what you think about that future, by 2020 (just four years from now!) close to half of the workforce will be what we currently call “Millennials” – people born between about 1982 and 2004. [click to continue…]

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I’m very pleased that Diane Coles Levine, MCR, a member of the board of directors at IFMA, has just published an interview (really an extended conversation) with me about my most recent book, Making Meetings Matter: How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age.

The interview appeared in FMLink, where Diane is a regular columnist. Here’s the link to the article/interview:

Driving Impactful Workplace Strategy Conversations

Thanks Diane!


Are you ready to make all your meetings both productive and popular? Need to design a powerful conversation with your executive team? Call me today at +1 510.558.1434 to schedule a free 20-minute conversation about your meeting leadership challenges. Upgrading your organization’s meeting design and leadership practices is a simple process that can pay huge dividends in productivity, employee engagement, and organizational effectiveness. 


 

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Telescope_to_RightHow many times have you completed a strategic planning exercise, or a visioning effort, with high energy, high hopes, and exuberant optimism that the effort will finally – finally! – produce meaningful change, only to see everything evaporate in the face of organizational resistance and/or apathy?

Achieving lasting and meaningful change in large organizations often feels impossible. It’s like Sisyphus rolling that boulder up the mountain, only to see it cascading back down to the valley, and having to start pushing it uphill all over again – and again, and again.

If that’s your experience, considering organizing a Future Search Conference. It’s one of the best ways I know for getting that boulder to stay at the top of the mountain.

The approach was invented/developed by Marvin Weisbord and several colleagues in the early 1990’s. It is documented, with plenty of tips and techniques along with several very compelling case examples, in Future Search: Getting the Whole System in the Room for Vision, Commitment, and Action, by Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. [click to continue…]

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As someone who thinks a lot about the future (and in particular about the future of work), I often remind my clients that in fact the future doesn’t actually exist. We all imagine what the future will be like, or what we want it to be like. But of course we can live only in the present – in the moment. That’s the very nature of existence.

But that reality is what makes life so exciting. We, all of us together, create the future every moment of every day. The actions we take, and the choices we make, add up to what tomorrow will be.

Yet in a world where so many things seem so uncertain, it often seems futile to make any effort at all to predict the future. The future is not only hazy and difficult to anticipate, it can feel chaotic, uncertain, and downright mysterious. How often have you just thrown up your hands in frustration and refused to spend any time at all thinking about tomorrow? [click to continue…]

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covermeetingRecently I’ve been offering tips and techniques for making meetings more productive – and more popular. A few weeks ago I listed 10 tips for meeting leaders (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”), and then on May 30 I shared a reaction to that first article that was largely inspired by Bob Leek of Multnomah County, Oregon (“Making Meetings Matter: Distributed Leadership”).

Those ideas, in turn, sparked a comment and a question from Steven Beary, Principal and CFO of The Beary Group. Steven observed that Bob’s suggestion to “call for adjournment” if a meeting isn’t going well relies on Roberts Rules of Order, which is a common source of principles for leading public-sector meetings. As Steven pointed out, in most private-sector organizations that kind of pushing back or “taking over” a meeting could well be seen as insubordination, and in any case could easily become a “career-limiting move.”

Steven then asked the following question: [click to continue…]

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business meetingLast week I offered ten tips for making a meeting flow smoothly (“10 Tips for Leading Meetings That Matter”). They were clearly directed at meeting leaders who have responsibilities for designing, convening, and directing meetings.

 

Bob Leek, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Multnomah County, Oregon, responded to that article by observing that, while meeting leaders are nominally “in charge” of their meetings, individual participants also contribute directly to the quality of the meeting conversations.

Bob’s suggestions for participant leadership are so compelling that I want to share them more broadly. Here, with only minor editing to clarify his perspectives, is Bob’s advice for meeting participants: [click to continue…]

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Concept of leadership

Do you want your meetings to matter? Of course you do. But wanting and doing are two very separate things. And as I have often stated, I’m convinced that being an effective meeting leader is as much about your mindset as it is about your skillset.

Based on my experience and my research, if you approach your meetings (as either a formal leader or an active participant) with the following ten “Big Ideas” in mind, your meetings – and all your conversations at work (and elsewhere) – will be more productive, more engaging, and more meaningful. [click to continue…]

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Group Meeting

There is no question that the future of work is centered around meetings. Meetings are the way people share ideas, learn from each, collaborate to produce new knowledge, solve problems, and make decisions.

Meetings are central to the future of work, yet most people I talk to complain that their meetings are horribly mismanaged most of the time, and are all too often a painful waste of their time.

That’s why I am on a crusade to make every meeting matter.

The first step to making your meetings matter is to be more intentional about them. And that starts with being exceptionally clear about why you are calling the meeting and what purpose you want it to accomplish.

With apologies to Gertrude Stein, a meeting is not a meeting is not a meeting. [click to continue…]

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Meeting ImageThe first step in making your meetings and other conversations matter is to be more intentional about them.

However, because every one of us engages in work-related conversations of all kinds every day, it is highly unrealistic to suggest that you spend time thinking through every conversation before it takes place.

So let’s focus on formal meetings. Every meeting you set up and hold consumes scarce corporate resources – time and money. Don’t walk into any meeting or significant conversation without thinking through the basic variables, being clear about your purpose and expectations for the meeting, and sharing those expectations with the invited participants.

What information will you share during the meeting? What information do you want to learn? What decisions will be made? What commitments do you need, and from whom? How will you get to where you need to be? [click to continue…]

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