Meetings – A little less talk, please?

Photo credit:  Creative Commons License  

Photo credit: Creative Commons License

Raise your hand if you’d like to spend more time in meetings. Yeah, right… Like we’d like hotter weather in Texas in the summer, I bet.

How about spending more of your meeting time in vital and productive conversations about significant issues affecting your organization’s success? What if you could do that instead of more of the usual topics or those boring “report out” sessions that have no impact?

As a leader, you must anticipate threats and opportunities before they slap the organization in the face. To do this, you must take in confusing and conflicting data about the environment from multiple sources and discern the patterns in the data. In other words, your job is to make sense of the ambiguous and contradictory mess of data to anticipate changes. You’ll do this individually sometimes, more often in dialogue with your team. These are conversations that produce results that impact your organization.

To make your team sense-making conversations productive and prevent the “usual suspects” problem, you must practice two key principles.

(1) Question rigorously.

Keep the questions open rather than leaping to solutions and actions too soon. Slow the pace down to allow for thoughtful response instead of instant reaction. Ask open-ended questions to explore each others’ thinking.

(2) Include respectfully.

Ensure that each idea is considered on its own merits, rather than because of who said it. Notice the small habits that may exclude different voices and change them. If you tend to assume that a question has one right answer, challenge that assumption.

These two principles are explored in much more detail in my book, The Fourth Factor: Managing Organizational Culture.

By questioning rigorously and including respectfully, you can create conversations that help your organization make sense of the environment more quickly. These conversations are vital to your organization’s success, especially in this turbulent climate.

Action Tip
Next time your team is discussing a business challenge, notice whether there is a thorough exploration of the problem and all its facets before the team jumps to solutions. If not, see if you can re-open the topic with an exploratory question.

Having difficulty getting your team into a productive dialogue? You may need outside facilitation to break the patterns. Contact me to explore how I can provide cost-effective facilitation to change how your team works together.