Generate Results in Meetings

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We might push, posture, protect, or prattle to get results in a meeting. Or we can let go, listen, learn, and lean in.

Which aprroach is more likely to generate results that last beyond the end of the meeting?

Right.

In your corner,

Mike

P.S. And love.

P.P.S. Which approach is more enjoyable, more likely to make meetings something people look forward to not dread?

How Not To Lose Track of Takeaways

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In all the busyness, it’s easy to lose track of what we have agreed to do for each other, that is of our takeaways. Here is a 5-step process that works well.

Recap. End each live, text, or email conversation or meeting with a review of who is going to do what by when.

Confirm. As soon as possible after a conversation or meeting, write an email to the person or people confirming what you have committed to do by when. Note that each person with a takeaway will be sending an email. If appropriate, you can replace this email with a full set of meeting minutes.

Track. Keep a running list of what you’ve committed and what others have committed to you. Copy the commitments you’ve sent and received. If meeting minutes are available, copy from them the relevant tasks due from and to you. Tedious? Perhaps. But doing this makes it much more likely that you’ll  remember what’s been promised. Include “by when” on each item. You can use a notebook with a different page to track each person’s commitments (including yours to them). Or you can track things in an app (like Todoist) and tag those items with the relevant people’s name(s). 

Review. Scan your list every day and pick the items you’d like to get done today and now what you’re expecting from others. This should take about a 2 minutes.

Do. Then do those things you’ve committed to do and, should they forget, remind your teammates of what they still owe you.

And should you find that you can’t keep your commitment, reach out and renegotiate a new what by when.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Today’s photo courtesy of TeroVesalainen

Meeting Frustration

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We have meetings for several good reasons: to stay aware of each other’s work, solve immediate problems, move projects forward, set strategies, and build trust.

Our meetings fail when we haven’t agreed upon the reason for this meeting. Or when we try to cover too many of the reasons in one meeting.

When some of us, for instance, need to solve immediate problems, some of us want to build the team, and some of us are focusing on strategic issues, we’re going to have a frustrating meeting.

Reduce meeting frustration by setting a regular schedule of different types of meetings. It could be as simple as weekly meetings for ongoing work and longer quarterly meetings that cover big-picture topics.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Today’s photo credit: marcel.roentzsch empty hotel bar via photopin (license)

To Have a Productive Meeting

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One way to have a productive meeting is to create a compelling focus by posing a question for the attendees to answer. Then we can facilitate the exploration, learning, and discussion toward answering that question in the meeting.

If the meeting is about setting​ a strategy or policy, we might ask something like, “What’s the best way for us to fund this project?” If it’s something operational we might ask, “What are all the things we need to do to implement this system?” And if we aren’t yet settled on what he meeting should​ be about, we can even ask, “What question, if we answered it well, would be the best one to answer in this meeting?”

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Of course, meetings covering more than one major topic would need a focus question for each.

 

Today’s photo credit: M i x y que? via photopin (license)

Meeting Hell and Meeting Heaven

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Meetings can be hellish.

But how much better would our meetings go if we were genuinely curious about the people and their work? What if we asked important questions that we didn’t already have an answer to?

What if we didn’t need to defend ourselves or our positions? What if we listened then were listened to?

And what if we captured action commitments (who has agreed to do what by when), shifted any detailed conversations to a subset of the team after the main meeting, and finished on time?

Meetings like that would heavenly and dang productive, too.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: hjl Atlantis via photopin (license)

How to Break Out of the Activity Over Results Trap

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
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It’s very easy for us to fall into the “Activity Over Results” trap. In this trap, we unconsciously judge ourselves and others by how much activity we generate. But, deep down, we much more value achieving desired results. We spend a large amount of our time on lots of low-value activities including most of our email, Slacks, and meetings. We see every day how volumes of these activities fail to deliver the results we want.

Here is one good method to shift things.

First, we commit to weekly and daily review times. We use this time to get atop any messages or notes that may have potential tasks within. We put all those potential tasks into our Not To Do list. Next, we scan our calendar and survey our lists of on-going projects and longer-term goals. Then, if this is our weekly review, we select and write down four big things from our projects, goals, and Not To Do list that we want to accomplish this week. We next select and write down four things we want to accomplish today. Then we start doing those four things.

Will this Review-Plus-Fours approach eliminate the messages and meetings? No. But it returns to us the focus we need. And we will be much more likely to achieve what we want.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Claudio Jofré Larenas cc

When Meetings Are Painful

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Strategy, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
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Most meetings serve two distinct functions: to track and to choose. These functions don’t mix well.

In a tracking meeting, we check progress, coordinate with each other, and hold ourselves accountable for selected chunks of work. Tracking meetings are shorter and more frequent. They range from a daily, 5-minute, stand up scrum to a biweekly project update. A tracking meeting agenda comes from the list of current chunks of work.

In a choosing meeting, we explore, select, plan, and commit to those chunks. We set strategy. Choosing meetings are longer and further apart. They range from a monthly operations review to an annual, multi-day, strategy off-site. The agenda for a choosing meeting comes from the difference between what is true now in our business and what we want to be true in the next little while.

Mixing these two types makes meetings painful.

When people in a tracking meeting want to explore or set strategy, tensions rise, eyes roll. When we are in a choosing meeting and someone wants to talk about minutiae, tensions flare, blood boils. And, without a regularly scheduled set of both types of meetings, people will bring up whatever topic at any meeting whenever.

With such a regular schedule, people will wait for the appropriate time. And meetings will resume their role as useful work tools.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

PS: There are other forms of meetings–such as training and interviews–that lie outside this model.

Today’s photo credit: blake_obrien via photopin cc

too much

Too Much Email, Too Many Meetings

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, We=All Who Matter
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Meetings and emails can certainly overwhelm us. Each one represents another request–or twelve!–to do something. How can this keep going? How can we possibly get everything done?

Our job is not to get it all done. We are neither supposed to answer every email nor attend every meeting. We cannot possibly satisfy every request. We will flame out trying.

We can try saying no. Or we can commit to applying our talents and caring to helping others achieve wonderful results. We can commit to the achieving such results for us, too. We can use our discernment to find the best route to those results. And we can give others the same leeway as they support us.

It’s not that we need to do it all or learn to say no. We instead simply negotiate–with calm respect–what gets done by when.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Em Bhoo via photopin cc

thinking

How To Apply The Right Thinking At The Right Time

Posted 4 CommentsPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Strategy, Will=Our inner game
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Critical thinking is important. And it is horrible if we apply it while we are creating a mission, strategy, or goals. Critical thinking here derails the considerations, explorations, and dreaming.

The creative thinking we use build strategies etc. is wonderful. And it, too, is rotten if we apply it when we are meant to be implementing and executing. Creative thinking here derails the detailed planning, problem solving, and progress.

Apply the right thinking at the right time. Pro tip: decide ahead of time the purpose of each meeting: strategy or implementation. In strategy meetings, focus on answering the questions, “What is true now?”, “What do we want to be true?”, and “Why?”. In implementation meetings, focus on answering the questions, “Who?”, “How?”, and “When?”. In each type of meeting, capture the thoughts of the other type for the next appropriate meeting where they will be welcome and useful.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

too many meetings

4 Ways to Handle Too Many Meetings

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, We=All Who Matter
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“Meetings! I do nothing but attend meetings! Meetings after meetings after meetings. I can’t get my real work done.”

Many of us have calendars filled with meetings. Each day we pick up a raft of things to do that we can’t get to because we are in meetings all day the next day. Hooboy.

Here are four things you can do to relieve the pressure.

  1. Do meetings correctly. Meetings are an important part of our work and, done well, are a great way to get things done. A good book on having productive meetings is Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.
  2. Change the default duration. We (and our electronic calendars) have a default meeting duration, usually 60 minutes. Try shrinking the size of your default meeting. If you normally book an hour, try making your default meeting 30 minutes long. Or even 20. You can always book more time if you need it.
  3. Use your system. With an up-to-date Effectiveness System, you can calmly, productively knock off a few doables on your task list as small blocks of time open up.
  4. Block time. Block time in your calendar for your own work. Set aside large enough blocks of time to refresh your Effectiveness System and do the tasks on your list. Strike a balance between being responsive to your colleagues and clients and having enough time for your own tasks.

In your corner,

Mike