Making Meetings Matter

return on investmentOver the last two weeks, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” and “The Business Case for Making Your Meetings Matter (Part Two),” I have been sharing several basic ideas for improving your organizational ROI for meetings.

Clearly, the only thing that ultimately matters about any meeting is the quality of the decisions made or the ideas developed during the meeting. However, even if a particular meeting doesn’t produce all the desired outcomes, there can still be value from the conversation:

Even if on the surface the group failed to complete its task, it is worth remembering that the participants may have forged new relationships, learned important facts about the issue or each other, or generated new ideas that will eventually produce even more meaningful results. (from Chapter 8, page 193, Making Meetings Matter)

Reducing Costs

Today I want to focus on reducing the cost of your meetings. [click to continue…]

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covermeetingAre you frustrated by all the time you waste in lousy, boring, unproductive meetings? Are you ready to do something about it?

Last week, in “Back to Basics: Making Your Meetings More Effective,” I described the only two ways you can enhance meeting productivity:

  • Improving outcomes – better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs – fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings; leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

It really is that simple. Now it’s time to dig into those two objectives to identify specific tactics you can embrace right now to improve your ROI on meetings. We’ll focus today on Improving Outcomes, and devote next week’s post to Reducing Costs (although it’s actually artificial to separate these two strategies, as they usually go hand-in-hand). [click to continue…]

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change-management meetingI’ve been studying and writing about organizational meetings for years. And I’ve offered lots of tips, techniques, and “rules” for making your meetings matter – to the organization, to your staff, and to yourself (see my new website, www.makingmeetingsmatter.com, for details about my new book and associated service offerings; and scan my past blog posts for loads of ideas and recommendations).

But I haven’t spent enough time discussing why making meetings matter is so important. In other words, what is the business case for changing the way you design and lead meetings?

To do that we have to look at the two dimensions of effectiveness:

  • Improving outcomes:  better decisions, more creative solutions, higher levels of participant engagement, strengthened working relationships, and happier participants;
  • Reducing costs: fewer meetings, shorter meetings, and more efficient meetings, leaving more time for people to get their own work done.

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If it was a meeting that mattered – an experience you want to have again – then it included a meaningful conversation. As the meeting wound up you were incredibly energized and ready to do something important, and/or you were disappointed it was over.

A meaningful conversation changes you in important ways. You see the world differently, or you have new insights into a problem you’ve been struggling with, or you know someone in a far more personal way.

As I think back on memorable meetings I’ve been part of, it seems clear that the participants were speaking openly and honestly, and with respect for each other’s experiences and intentions. We were all “in the moment” exploring a topic we cared deeply about.

Those are clues about what drives a conversation from good to great. But they are only clues, and they are only my personal insights. To broaden my understanding of what makes a good conversation I’ve asked many people I respect and admire to share with me how they think about good conversations. [click to continue…]

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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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