Work Design

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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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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mmm180x490pxsmallAre you ready to become a smart meeting leader?

I invite you to join me on Tuesday, April, 26, at 4 PM Eastern time, for a free one-hour online conversation focused on “Redefining Leadership for the Digital Age.”

You can register here:

Registration URL: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7124403613916859139
Webinar ID: 146-058-459

In this inaugural offering I will identify why a new mindset is essential, describe the “P4+” model of meeting leadership I’ve developed, discuss how it produces meetings that are both productive and popular, and offer practical tips for engaging your meeting participants in creative, constructive conversations.

Participating in this program will enable you to:

  • Understand how the digital age differs from the industrial age;
  • Know why collaborative leadership is so central to success in the digital age;
  • Describe the behaviors of collaborative leaders;
  • Ask questions that draw out the ideas, insights, and experiences of others; and
  • Bring your meetings to an effective ending that achieves your desired outcomes.

[click to continue…]

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qmark1If you accept the idea that a meeting leader’s role is to orchestrate the conversation, or to sense and guide, then pay very close attention to what every participant is saying, and what emotions they are expressing. But listen for understanding, not to judge or evaluate what is being said.

As conversation expert Judith Glaser explains in Conversational Intelligence (link is to Amazon.com),

When we listen to connect we open and expand the space, allowing [the speakers’] aspirational [selves] to emerge. [When] we think out loud with them, and share our dreams with them and co-create with them we all experience ourselves in a new way.

Ask penetrating, open-ended questions, and add follow-up questions that extend your understanding. In the back of your mind you might question the validity of a statement, or be upset about a negative tone of voice. But remember that as the meeting leader you want to create an environment where everyone feels safe and free to express themselves, no matter what the content of their message (within the bounds of civility, of course). [click to continue…]

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covermeetingI was recently interviewed about Making Meetings Matter by Dr. Jac Fitz-Enz (“Interviewing Jim Ware”). In the course of our conversation he asked me why I had moved from my long-term focus on the future of work to something as “mundane” as corporate meetings.

Dr. Jac’s question caught me a bit off guard, but it made me think. Here’s his question and my response:

Dr. Jac:

Jim what took you from the lofty heights of futuring to the more mundane issues around meetings? There’s no question that we all suffer from meetingitis, but what drew you to it?

[click to continue…]

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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. [click to continue…]

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David Coleman, the founder and executive director of Collaborative Strategies, Inc., has just published a highly complimentary review of Making Meetings Matter on CMSWire.

Here is a brief excerpt:

Collaboration and telecommunications company Fuze correlated data that shows “15 percent of an organization’s time is spent in meeting.” A Bain report echoed these findings. On average, 11 million meetings took place in the US every day in 2015.

Another study calculates that $37 billion is lost due to unproductive meetings every year. Our estimate, based on the 7 billion meetings in 2014, was that $70 billion was wasted in unproductive meeting time.

No wonder that bookshelves are packed with books trying to tell you how to make those meetings more productive, what tools to use, even proper etiquette. But they all fail to look at changing the “meeting mindset.”

That’s where James Ware’s “Making Meetings Matter, How Smart Leaders Orchestrate Powerful Conversations in the Digital Age” comes in.

David’s article is really much more than a review of the book; it’s a thoughtful treatise on the central role that meetings play in 21st-century organizational life, and how important it is for leaders to be much more thoughtful about how they design and conduct the meetings that fill so many peoples’ days at work.

Check it out for yourself at:

“Are You Sure You Want to Schedule Another Meeting?

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Special Note: You are invited to a special (and free) book launch party celebrating the publication of Making Meetings Matter. Join me for an hour of conversation about meetings and collaborative conversations on Wednesday, March 16, at 3 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

Just click on this link to register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4007501453093003777

Conversation


Last week I reported on my recent interviews with several smart people about what makes for a good conversation (“A Debate is Not a Discussion, and a Discussion is not a Dialogue“) .

Today let’s dig a little deeper into the underlying factors they identified. Here are the seven dimensions of effective conversations:

1. A good conversation is purposeful.

Sure, we often engage in small talk, or in conversations we know are relatively trivial. But when the subject is something we care about, and we have a clear and explicit goal (informing, learning, sharing, persuading) we tune in more intensely and we engage more deeply. [click to continue…]

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