The tranquility of Cape Porpoise Harbor
I love what ends up in here…
Over the weekend the lovely Ms. Alyson and I took our dog, Brooks, to the Snoqualmie River to let him cool off in the river. Standing in eighteen inches of water I was struck by how clear the water was. Here’s what I saw.
When I turned around to watch a hang glider in the sky above, I noticed the rivers current, when viewed from a different perspective, distorted the view of the rocks on the riverbed floor. The rocks were the same I just couldn’t see them clearly. Here’s what I saw.
These two pictures show the power of perspective. By turning 180 degrees and looking down my perspective of the riverbed changed. No longer was there clarity. Now I had distortion. That left me with three observations:
1. Far too often our perspective is limited not by external factors, but by our own inability to seek out another perspective.
2. Most executives do not have a proven process for expanding their perspective.
3. What most leaders think is crystal clear is from an employee perspective distortion.
In what area of your professional life do you need to expand your perspective and or gain more clarity?
No, it’s not email, voicemail, or meeting requests. It’s the performance inhibiting, frustration inducing and all too pervasive meeting.
Meetings have gotten a bad wrap because of a pervasive misconception that meetings are designed primarily as a vehicle for sharing information and fostering discussion. They can be effective in that way, but only when there is a format for structuring the meeting. The primary purpose of a meeting is to be a decision making tool used by teams and or committees to advance the strategic initiatives of the organization.
In the hopes of helping the three senior executives I’ve spoken with over the same number of weeks, I’m sharing my protocol for meetings that can cut the number of unproductive meetings you attend by 50% while also improving your remaining meetings effectiveness by 50%. To do so I’ll use the word meetings as a mnemonic for how to best structure and view meetings:
M: M stands for meetings are about making decisions that are beneficial and move the team/organization toward its strategic intent. Period!
E: E stands for expect an agenda 100% of the time. Agenda’s must include topics, person responsible and time allocated. If you have too many items, too many people and not enough time you’ll have participants leaving early with unfinished business and or leaving late with a bad taste in their mouth. Neither is conducive to effective and productive meetings.
E: E also stands for educating yourself and your participants in advance of the meeting. Send participants information in advance with specific discussion points related to the agenda and the relevance toward a common strategic initiative. Prior to any meeting educate yourself to the level of complexity and alignment regarding a decision and whether a decision can be made at your meeting. It may be that a planning session would be more valuable and appropriate.
T: T stands for time is a precious and costly resource and requires thinking in time blocks that are less than sixty minutes. Not all meetings require sixty minutes but are scheduled for sixty minutes out of habit. T also means that EVERY meeting must have a timekeeper to keep everyone on track with your agenda.
I: I stands for include only the necessary people for the decision to be made. Inviting “interested parties” is counter productive and unnecessary.
N: N stands for navigate your next steps, responsible parties and timelines. Never leave a meeting without these crucial next steps.
G: G stands for guarantee participants an effective and productive use of their time. If you have a reputation for scheduling extremely well run and productive meetings, and where people are provided a framework for being the most effective as possible, they’ll bring their best thinking to your meetings.
S: S stands for separate socializing from decision making. For some people they don’t have quality time with their colleagues and can feel disconnected and out of touch. This hinders performance as much as a poorly run meeting. But, don’t use meetings as a social event. Schedule time for people to have lunch once every two weeks or once a month if socializing is important.
I have three questions for you:
1. Which of the seven aspects of effective meetings do you always have included in your meetings?
2. Which of the seven aspects of effective meetings is absent from your meetings?
3. What is the impact of your answers?
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