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Exploring the subject of leadership

As we move through the year, we continue to explore the role of leaders to create shifts in the world and ask the question “who are the leaders we need?” Through the course of our work around the world, we’ve taken the opportunity to ask a variety of people from different contexts about their take…

Who are the leaders we need?

So much is possible if we consciously and wisely choose how best to step forward as leaders for this time. These words from Margaret Wheatley resonate for us as leadership is something we return to time and again in our conversations about humanised workplaces. Over the last half of 2017 we explored humanised workplaces and…

Measuring the Humanity of our Workplaces

It feels appropriate to start this exploration by stating that we are not complete hippies, and therefore, are not against measurement per se. In fact, we would argue that the emergence of employee engagement and culture surveys has raised the profile of intangible human issues in the workplace and that the intention and some of…

Humanising our workplace…. Yes, good idea, but how will know we’re succeeding?

We’ve been exploring the whys and wherefores of humanising our workplaces with clients, colleagues and pretty much anyone we’ve had a conversation with over the past few months...

We live in a reactive world…

We don’t put a warning signs on a road until there have been accidents. We don’t provide legal support for women in domestic abuse situations until they are in desperate situations. We don’t take mental health seriously until someone is unable to function. …Why do we need crisis to prove something is wrong!? These might…

Humanising Our Workplaces, One Meeting at a Time

As Meeting Magic moved through its 18th birthday I have been reflecting on the connections between meetings, the challenges businesses face today and the benefits of humanising our workplaces. One of the main shifts I have made in my thinking about the work we do, can appear to be a spelling mistake! Meetings – the…

80 accountants in an evening!

An evening with 80 other accountants exploring challenges around communicating and engaging non-financial people with financial information may not be everyone’s idea of fun but stick with me…. I am fast approaching the 30th anniversary of qualification as a chartered accountant and if I am typical of the group in terms of the amount of…

Agile strategy is a verb not a noun

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog in which I said, strategic planning is an anxiety management activity for leaders and managers who want to hold on to the illusion of control. I also said I would say more about planning in a subsequent blog, so here it is…. This week I came across…

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”   Plutarch This quote sums up for me how change really happens.  It is about leading change by example, or to put it another way, truly walking the talk.  A change in how we behave or how we do things has an effect on those around us. The…

What stops us being BOLD – The parable of UPS and DOWNS

Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s strapline is #BeBoldForChange. This got me thinking about what is bold and what stops us being bold. My simple view is that bold is ‘doing something even when you are sh***ing yourself!’ and one of the things that prevents us from being bold is when we feel…

Love in the workplace…

It is Valentine’s Day, so it feels appropriate to offer something into the universe about love in the workplace. For any saucy minxes out there, I do NOT mean that this blog is about doing it in the stationery cupboard!!! What I mean is that love is rarely talked about in the workplace and, as…

Change – our constant companion…

We are very used to hearing that change is a constant in business nowadays. As most of the work that I do is about change on some level then it is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. As individuals we change constantly – cells in our bodies are replaced on a cyclical…

Is it all kicking off in your kick-off? If not, maybe it should?

We are in the heart of kick-off season in many organisations and it’s got me thinking, “what’s the intention of these events, and how could we make more of these valuable opportunities for people to connect face to face?” I believe the intention of kick-off meetings is to get people aligned on a common direction…

Self-organisation in a Boxing Day party

Much of my work involves creating self-organising groups. When we create self-organisation we release energy in the people within the system to find their passion and take responsibility. I believe in this way of working so much that I’ve even integrated it into my personal life – here’s an example… In my pre-children era I…

Where do motivation, inspiration and commitment come from?

When I was a junior manager I was told that part of my job was to inspire and motivate my team in order to gain their commitment to aligned action. After years of trying to do this I started to realise: 1) People are motivated by a complicated set of factors, all of which are…

The virtual working conundrum – how to collaborate effectively in a dispersed group

There is a conundrum about virtual working in the business world at the moment… Most people need to work virtually in their jobs now and companies have invested millions in technology to support this. We all ‘get’ the commercial benefits of working virtually (saving the expense and time of travel) and the benefits of collaborating…

Organisational acupuncture: A new approach to change in organisations

A quick lesson in acupuncture A few weeks ago my dear friend and colleague, Kenda, told me about Urban Acupuncture. Apparently this is the practice of using small things to improve community spirit e.g. a phone box library or a small community garden. This conversation got me thinking about how small interventions can create great…

Hindsight, Insight and Foresight: Key ingredients for effective planning

These days I think it is generally acknowledged that collaborative planning is more effective than a leader locking herself in a room with a towel on her head and figuring out all the answers. However, there is more to collaborative planning than just getting a group of people together in a room, and hoping the magic…

The magic of group working

I’ve spent the last two weeks in week-long immersions with groups and I feel like I have fallen back in love with group working again. This experience has reminded me of the HUGE potential that exists when people truly collaborate together and the work that needs to be done to get there. This chart is…

What do great collaborative working and Argentinian tango have in common?

Not an obvious comparison perhaps but when I think of my own experience, working with groups as a facilitator and as a not-quite-novice tanguera, the common ground is evident. Not seeing it? Allow me to elaborate…. Most people come together to work, either face-to-face or virtually, in a meeting; the working equivalent of a dance…

The Visual Collaboration Continuum

Last week I had the chance to teach a group of NTL Organisational Development practitioners about the power of visual working in OD. The main concern for many people starting to work visually is the need for drawing skills, but I believe the key to creating impact is in HOW visuals are created, the greater…

Exhaustive Mediocrity: When the whole never becomes greater than the sum of the parts

I see an intention to collaborate coming from the top of most organisations, integrated into visions, strategies and plans. It is widely accepted nowadays that, in most organisations, there is value in collaboration – both collaboration internally, between departments and regions, and collaboration externally, with customers and suppliers. But it appears that the reality of…

Positive Meetings…

There are lots of things written about meetings – particularly about how bad they can be! But great things happen when people meet, and there have been some meetings that have changed our lives: In 1898 when Thomas Eddison met Henry Ford and encouraged him to continue his work as an engineer. In 1967 when…

How to build trust in a virtual environment

The modern world means we’re meeting in a very different way but we haven’t evolved that quickly and human beings still have the need for real human interaction. The way we do things is often complex and in a face-to-face environment you can create trust and commitment much more quickly than you can in a…

University of Brighton

‘Involving people affected by change and allowing them to provide input on issues that matter to them, for example, large scale strategic conversations, is more likely to result in people owning the change process and its outcomes’ This principle was used in our work with the University of Brighton recently, here’s what we did… Our…

Visual working – More than just pretty pictures

Introduction The wave of interest in visual working has crescendoed in the last five years. I attribute this to many factors including: the increase in global working, in which pictures paint a thousand words; the use of iconography in the electronic devices we use every day; the popularity of books by David Sibbet and Dan…

Seeds of hope for positive change in turbulent times

I have been reflecting on the post-referendum chaos in the UK, through the lens of change, which I practice in my work. These reflections have lead me to be hopeful, and here is why There needs to be chaos before profound change. Just think about when you tidy out the garage at home – no,…

Reinvigorating key teams for long-term direction and strategy change

The following is a case study from our supportive facilitation work for a global leader in cardiac and vascular care needing to reinvigorate key teams for long-term direction and strategy change. Mission: Coming from a period of transition and change, the client’s challenge to us was to reinvigorate their key teams and muster forces behind…

Agreeing to strategy while avoiding pitfalls

The following case study is from pro-bono planning sessions and meeting facilitation for a small UK non-profit that wanted to agree new strategies while avoiding pitfalls from their past. Mission: Escaping Victimhood is a small, non-profit organisation specialising in the support of families of victims of violent crime. The organisation had recently received Lottery funding,…

Shift in strategy to make step change

The following is a case study from meeting we facilitated for a Japan-based technology company with global operations that needed a shift in strategy to make step change in applying their work. Mission: Here the CEO wished to make a shift in strategy and align his team in order to make a step change in…

Preparing leadership for growing rapidly through acquisition

The following case study is from meetings we facilitated for a global drinks company that had grown rapidly through acquisitions. Mission: The CEO needed to get together the heads of all the business units to converge and agree on a single strategic way forward. Our mission was to take a group of individual business leaders…

Transforming an HR organisation with globally aligned strategy

The following is a case study from our facilitation consultancy with a global, France-based FMCG business focused on transforming the HR organisation with a globally aligned strategy. Mission: A new global HR leader needing to transform the HR organisation from locally-based transactional HR to globally-aligned strategic HR partners. Methods: Briefing from the HR Director to…

New leader with a new global strategy

The following case study is for a leading FMCG company with a new leader with a new global strategy. We supported him and helped him collaborate with his new team. Mission: The company is a leading global FMCG business. Our clients was new in the role and business segment. The aim was to bring their…

Can organisations embrace agile working models?

The Harvard Business Review has published comprehensive thinking on how organisations can engage around agile working models. Agile, of course, started in IT and tech project management. It is now being explored as a way of working in all levels and departments of an organisation. Agile strategy development is something we are exploring and starting…

Improving collaboration with fewer meetings

The following is a case study for recent work we did for a global cosmetics, haircare and beauty company with the goal of improving collaboration with fewer meetings. Mission: Their employee engagement survey showed that marketing managers were spending too much time in meetings and not getting the creative results they needed. Our task: find…

What does collaboration look like?

What does collaboration look like? What does it sound like? This video of Ravel’s Bolero played on one cello by four musicians from the Vienna Cello Ensemble expresses collaboration. Think about how much trust, shared knowledge and wisdom, ability to adjust to circumstances, clear understanding of roles, shared purpose and roadmap, and so many other…

Improving meeting productivity through leadership

The following is a case study from meetings we designed and facilitated for a global pharmaceutical company with a goal of improving meeting productivity. Mission: The UK and Ireland employee survey results showed a major concern about the number of meetings and the quality of meetings. Our mission was to work with them to improve…

Self management – with power comes responsibility

As the concept of self-management becomes more popular, there is much dialogue about the shift leaders need to make in order to make space for a ‘bottom upwards’ movement. Whilst this is a key shift that’s needed in organisations that want self-management to thrive, there is also an equal shift needed in staff supporting the…

What competencies serve leadership?

Sunnie Giles’ article in the 15 March 2016 Harvard Business Review nails the competencies that best serve leaderhip, in its many forms. Our thoughts on leadership align with Sunnie’s writing. Have a read and give us your thoughts on this important topic.

Meeting Magic

What is your purpose?

We know from experience that if you focus on the purpose you will find greater success. This applies when meeting and in organisations and in leadership concerns. This article by Dominic Houlder and Nandu Nandkishore in the Harvard Business Review published 22 March 2016 echoes our thinking. Have a read. Let us know what you…

A journey towards teal

This article was developed for Enlivening Edge. In 1999 I left my well-paid, corporate job to pursue my passion for facilitation and co-found Meeting Magic. Meeting Magic (MM) provided meeting facilitation services for large corporate organisations. Three years later Ingrid, my co-founder, and I were at capacity and the vision for the Meeting Magic Network…

Meeting Magic

Sometimes thinking is a luxury when your day to day work is full on. When you do get time to think you have to focus on your critical topics. Thinking takes time and focus. You schedule some time and we’ll help you think through your issues and topics in a focus, deliberate way. Let’s get…

Three principles for leveraging diversity

It was recently International Women’s Day. There has been a lot of media coverage about the value of women in senior roles in organisations. It’s a shame that this kind of insight is still shared as if it is new, but it is great that this is being widely appreciated now.  Whilst some organisations wrestle with diversity…

Meeting Magic

Uncovering the real problem can sometimes be difficult because it is easy to get in our own ways. If you want to talk to us about how to move beyond where you are to uncover the underlying issues give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or tell us what you think is going…

Can distributed teams find quality ways of working?

More and more companies, and teams within organisations, are struggling to communicate well, with leaders challenged to keep their local teams aligned to the overall organisational goals, strategies and agreed actions.

Is there an agile approach to visioning and strategy?

Agile has achieved wide acceptance within the project management world. We have been thinking about how agile concepts work in vision, strategy and deployment processes. Our question is can meeting facilitation add value as agile co-thinkers with leaders who understand that the world is a constantly changing place.

Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey’s work and thinking has deep resonance with Meeting Magic. We build on his thinking in understanding the power of meeting. Meeting well is built on trust. Trust glues relationships, meeting process, personal and group action, and organisational change. At Meeting Magic we help individuals build trust within their work process. To learn more…

Nelson Mandela

Call us at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete our contact form with details of what you want to discuss.

Empathy, humility and respect influence Liz Forder

Liz Forder finds her major influencers in her personal life and her effective meeting facilitation. What she has learned from powerful women influences her professional work, particularly her facilitation of groups through the power of meeting. She carries her own empathy, humility and respect for others into her client communications. And, there is room for…

Fiona Stratford’s influencers empower personal growth

Personal growth is what drives Fiona Stratford, even in her client relationships. Internal, personal reflection supports her thinking with clients. Learning from relationships supports her professional interactions. Fiona’s goal is to learn from everyone she meets, from line managers in her early professional career to luminaries of thoughful revolution like Gandhi and Martin Luther King.…

Margaret Mead

Meeting Magic believes that meeting well has the power to change organisations and, indeed, the world. Start a conversation with us at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete our contact form with some thoughts on your next meeting. It is a place to start. Let’s talk.

Take our meeting culture survey

We are collecting data in our meeting culture survey that will inform our thinking about how meetings help or hinder organisational culture. We will be posting some of the data on this website for others to use. Please take our survey. It takes 15-20 minutes so sit back and relax, grab a cuppa and have…

Kenda Gaynham’s personal influencers of her facilitative thinking

Becoming a facilitative thinker who understands the power of meeting has been Kenda Gaynham’s path through her education, professional life and now her facilitative thinking with clients. Kenda identifies those who continue to influence her thinking and facilitation. She has built her career with beliefs of not limiting people, opening space for creative thinking and…

Want some graphic facilitation training in the US?

One of our partners in the United States is offering a foundational graphic facilitation training. Crowley & Co have been training The Grove style of graphic recording and how to integrate those tools into meeting facilitation for many years. Deirdre Crowley has over 15 years experience in graphics for meetings, organisational communications and in the…

Who influences Katherine Woods’ drive for culture change through meetings?

Becoming an effective meeting facilitator does not come overnight. It does not come without thoughful reflection about actual client work. And, it does not come without exploring what others think, along with reflection on others’ insights. Being an advocate for organisational culture change through meetings comes from years of experience. Katherine Woods range from Peter…

Who influences your thinking and work?

Here at Meeting Magic and Scribing Magic we have lots of people who influence us from David Sibbet to Frederic Laloux.Over the years these people and their ideas have changed because our thinking and how we work with clients is always evolving with new ideas, and our own shared thinking, particularly about the power of…

Fiona Stratford: passionate about communications

Fiona Stratford’s passion is focused on people and helping them communicate through effective meetings. She enjoys finding different ways to support conversations and collaboration in order to help groups move forward. Have a listen and a watch of this video biography. Fiona would enjoy talking to you about how she can support your key conversations…

Liz Forder delivers effective meetings

In our publishing of the new videos on the website, we present Liz Forder, one of our meeting facilitators. She is passionate about people and how to support them in creating effective meetings that get results. Watch and listen to Liz give some background on how she arrived at Meeting Magic and what she bring…

Getting to know Katherine Woods: meeting facilitation has roots

Katherine Woods as been successful in the meeting facilitation field for many years, 16+ at this writing. She has a thoughtful and experienced take on facilitation and how to support organisations. Her passion about her work with clients is found in her roots and personal history. This video is the second in her story telling.…

Meeting Magic

Mastering how to clarify your meeting purpose, how to craft your desired outcomes, and how to create meeting outputs will make for highly impactful meetings. We are passionate about meeting facilitation, graphic facilitation, and visual engagement. Call us to begin the conversation about your meetings and how we can support you. +44 (0)1628 471 114.…

How Frederic Laloux & Meeting Magic sync

Frederic Laloux is focusing thinking on organisations. Every generation seems to have a voice that challenges how to imagine organisations. Reinventing Organizations is his book that encapsulates his thoughts. We have much in common with Laloux. We find that we have been on the path to what Laloux calls the Evolutionary stage or Teal. (He…

About meeting facilitation & our passion to serve clients

We are proud of what we know and believe about meeting facilitation and the power of meeting. From our experience working with clients for nearly 17 years, we are passionate about supporting the ‘verb’ of meeting. Meeting is where communications happens, whether that is two people or hundreds of delegate participants. We know meeting facilitation,…

Meeting Magic

Reinventing Organisations: looking at how we work with outsourced suppliers

Creating a mutual relationship with outsourced suppliers There has been a theme in the conversations I have had this week. The theme is about customers, outsourced suppliers and how we go about buying services into organisations. This has got me thinking about the the paradigms and pitfalls of B2B services buying that I have experienced…

Three elements to becoming Evolutionary Teal

This may be the first time that I have read a book that inspires me to write my reflections on what I read. I have just read ‘Reinventing Organizations’, by Frederic Laloux, that helped me understand Evolutionary Teal organisations. The book presents a model that maps organisational structure and design to stages in human development.…

Does meeting preparation add value to the final results?

For some, planning for meetings is a last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants process that might result in an agenda or meeting plan. We believe very strongly, based on our collective experience, that every minute of meeting planning has a high return value during the meeting and results in robust agreements and actions.

Do blended virtual and face-to-face meetings work?

We’ve been doing virtual meetings with our clients for some time. Recently, we’ve also been seeing a trend to ‘blend’ virtual within face-to-face (f2f) meetings. This plays out when a global team or group has remote portions of the team not able to join them in the room.

What is the next stage of your organisation?

There are many ways organisations improve, change and become better. Enlivening Edge offers a dialogue about identifying next stages of organisational development and discusses how to get to your next stage, whatever that may be. We’ve joined that dialogue with an article in their newsletter: it offers our perspective on how to get to your next stage.…

Case study: supporting a team by blending virtual and face-to-face meetings

From time to time we will be posting case studies of recent work. Most of our work is highly confidential and proprietary. Occasionally, with the client’s approval, we are able to post a brief summary of a specific piece of work. In this case, the client requested anonymity but agreed we could post a general description…

Meeting Magic

How do we treat each other in the work place?

This is one of my absolute favourite quotes and I really believe that it is true. People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.’ — Maya Angelou I was really saddened to see the statistic that 41% of organisations reported an…

Ever wonder why and how graphic facilitation works? Watch this!

Tom Benthin is one of those amazing graphic recorders who understands business and meeting facilitation. This video shows him helping the meeting leader summarise their working day, one way graphic recording serves the group. In this instance, the graphic was used to ‘re-tell’ the story of what happened during the day and invited delegate /…

Meeting Magic

Peter Drucker

The Magic of Meetings in Reinventing Organizations

By Katherine Woods and Kenda Gaynham  How mindful are organisations of the potential of meetings? How many organisations pay explicit attention to leveraging the power of how people meet? How aware are leaders of organisations of the (usually inexplicit) operating systems they create through the way they run meetings? Before we explore this in more…

How are your virtual meeting facilitation skills?

Virtual meetings are no longer a thing of the future or something only large organisation do because they have to. Meeting in virtual environments, whether Skype, GoTo Meeting, Live Meeting, or any other platform, is now an essential part of collaboration and conversation is all types of organisations.

Strong synergy with Frederic Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations

The image above is a visualisation of Frederic Laloux’s descriptions of organisations from his important thinking described in his book Reinventing Organizations (RO). The image was created by Katherine Woods to visualise RO and to, quite literally, see what Laloux is articulating. Laloux has had a profound impact on our own organisation as well as…

A pivotal moment

I believe very strongly, passionately even, that to be truly effective and successful requires us to work better together. The increasing complexity of business life means that it is impossible for one person to have all the knowledge and experience necessary to make informed decisions in every circumstance. Teamwork is essential but it is not something…

Do we ignore social capital at our peril?

Margaret Heffernan, in her new book on social capital, explores in depth the true benefit of trust, knowledge, reciprocity, and shared norms in creating successful organisations, including cultures and societies. This is an excellent look at how teams function and think and view themselves and interact. Have a read of this extract from Beyond Measure:…

Meeting Magic

In need of new energy in your group or org?

One way to charge up your group, team, section, division or your entire organisation is to bring in some bespoke training. Not only do we offer four highly regarded workshops, we will design bespoke training that targets your specific needs, including building in the new energy you need to spark commitment, ideas generation, strategy and…

So, what’s the point of meeting

Time is very valuable. We are encouraged to make the most of time and be the best that we can be. So what does this looks like on a day-to-day basis once you have your vision for the future and start working towards it?

Yves Morieux

Productivity drives success. If this doesn’t move you to want to improve productivity in your organisation we don’t know what will. Interesting and motivational stuff. Everything Morieux talks about is addressed in quality facilitation.     We know we can help you with your productivity, and the work that makes it happen. Call us for…

Meeting Magic

Simon Sinek

Our thinking exactly! We help build ideas then move those ideas to committed action. To discuss your thinking on moving ideas to action give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form giving us some thoughts and where you’d like to start the conversation.

Manuel Lima’s visual history of human knowledge

We love this video, both for the content but also the visuals used. This is proof that visual thinking aids understanding. We believe visual or graphic facilitation embeds that visual thinking in organisations. Enjoy! If you want to discuss how visual thinking and graphic facilitation supports your organisational communications give us a call at +44…

Is your facilitation a car crash waiting to happen?

In August I made a business trip to Singapore where I met with clients, consultants and friends. One of the people I met with was Noel Tan, the current chairman of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) for Singapore. We shared perspectives on the changes in the market for facilitation in large organisations over the…

Need the foundations for solid meeting facilitation?

A good place to start learning high quality meeting facilitation or to add to your skill sets is the Meeting Magic book. Here is a sneak peek at our new video describing the book and what it offers you. You can purchase the book direct from our webpage. If you would like to discuss the contents…

A practical tool-kit to support your journey as a group facilitator

Sometimes you gotta jump in and do it! Our tool-kit, the Meeting Magic Method, is a highly practical and focused support process for thinking about meetings and how to make them more effective. The Method offers foundational theory while using a template, visual approach to meeting planning. This tool-kit is highly regarded by users and…

Expanded training options

We are excited about our newest pages on the website. In addition to our popular Advanced Facilitation Training (AFT), our training offers now cover Collaborative Leadership, Vision to Action and Team Performance. These four offers round out the messages we have been sharing with clients and offering in training for our 16 years of service.…

Meeting Magic

Getting better results from business planning

There’s a saying, ‘if you fail to plan then you plan to fail’. As we approach the time when many businesses are involved in business planning there is no doubt that this is a really important activity. How effective is business planning in your business? Do you get the outcomes that deliver real business benefit…

Meeting Magic

Wise words for developing leadership

Recently, I spent two days at the 7th Developing Leadership Conference held this year at Henley Business School. The forum attracts academics from around the world to present the latest research on leadership development.

Meeting Magic

More stats that support the Meeting Magic message

While it is a ‘nice to have’ in order to keep the reality in our sights, in reality we all know that meetings are under pressure to become better. That meeting is a verb that needs some action, not a noun to be reviled and left to hang out to dry. We know meetings. We…

What is virtual leadership? A webcast about creating results from a distance.

Our very own John Ogier in Singapore will facilitate a highly topical webcast about virtual leadership and how to successfully run virtual meetings. Speakers Jeannine Hertel, COO of Mercuri Urval, and David Grainger, Sales Director, Arkadin, will join John in a virtual format to demonstrate and discuss best practices for virtual meetings and leading distributed…

Harvard Business Review

This article in the Harvard Business Review supports much of what we have been speaking to clients about for years. This is well researched and written. It helps that it is the summary of a book, Your Strategy Needs a Strategy. If you want to explore the ideas in this article and book give us…

Inside Business: Creative Collaboration at Singapore Australian Chamber of Commerce

Katherine Woods and John Ogier have a busy week coming up. When taking a break from client meetings in Singapore, they will be speaking at the Singapore Australian Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, July 30. The topic is one we enjoy implementing with clients. How to be creative in your collaboration so you drive results…

Disruptive Decision Making at Singapore British Chamber of Commerce

Existing hierarchical decision making is not working in our modern economy and corporate environments. In Singapore on Tuesday, July 28, Katherine Woods and John Ogier will be exploring this topic with the Singapore British Chamber of Commerce. Anyone in Singapore or visiting the area is welcome to attend the meeting. Click here to learn more…

The greatest productivity opportunity for most organisations

Businesses are all about people working together. The good news is that we are currently investing huge amounts in this, but are we getting the return? Managers invest 50-75 % of their time meeting with colleagues This equates to spending over 130 days a year meeting people Most organisations spend over 10% of their turnover in…

VoiceAmerica interview: Making meetings magical with Katherine Woods

VoiceAmerica is the online leader in original live talk radio; they more or less invented the format back in the 1990s and have gone on to become the single largest producer, distributor, and online broadcaster of original live and on-demand talk radio programming in the world. VoiceAmerica reaches millions of listeners every month in more…

Do new company structures help?

This interesting article opens up new ways of thinking about the structure of companies. There are several new ways of thinking about organisations and organisational management. But do these new structures really help? Are these new management structures any more successful than legacy structures?

Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn…then lead!

Inspiring talk based on his leadership knowledge gained from his military experience. Give us a shout and we’ll help strap you in as a leader by helping you listen, learn and lead! +44 (0)1628 471 114. Or, complete our contact form with some thoughts on what you want to learn and we’ll get back to…

Conferences got you down?

We know the Autumn conference planning is in full swing. You have a team of people coordinating and contacting and creating and figuring and on and on. And, we know you are sitting there working on the content so it is relevant and energising and fun and that you get the biggest bang for the…

Friedrich Nietzsche

We like this quote because it supports our thinking on how to approach meetings with openness to ideas. Holding our own ideas loosely so we are ready to change when we learn from others.

Decoding complexity using graphic recording

During a recent assignment for Scribing Magic, I was asked by #TripwireInc to graphically record* two Information Security events over the course of three days (#InfoSec15 and #BSidesLDN2015). *Graphic recording is the art of capturing the key thoughts, ideas and discussions that happen during meetings and events. This is achieved using hand-drawn images and text created…

Disrupt thyself

Authored by John Ogier, meeting facilitator in Singapore, 12 June 2015 American novelist and social critic James A. Baldwin is responsible for one of our favourite quotes, “The future is like Heaven. Everyone exhalts it, but no-one wants to go there now.” It speaks to the recognised human condition that rather than grasping the potential of…

James Baldwin

Supporting Philanthropy

Katherine Woods spoke at the inaugural Thames Valley section of the Engaging Experience Philanthropy Network, which is an initiative of the Bulldog Trust, about her personal engagement with volunteering and how Meeting Magic and Scribing Magic support philanthropy and giving back to our larger community. The focus of her presentation was to get involved through…

Leadership: Is the best defence the best offence?

This article in the San Francisco Chronicles online service SFGate published on 11 June 2015 holds that leaders who are defensive about their actions and decisions are less trusted in their organisations. Have a read and then have a think with us.

Why do virtual meetings have a bad rap?

As I am sure you are aware, an increasing amount of corporate work is done virtually, thanks to technology platforms like Lync, Skype for Business, GoTo Meeting and the like. However, we consistently hear from our clients that meetings in the virtual space have an even worse reputation than those that are face-to-face.

The Magic of Meetings: More than meets the eye and our meeting culture consultancy

How mindful are organisations of the potential of meetings? How many organisations pay explicit attention to leveraging the power of meetings to drive the organisation’s performance? How aware are leaders of organisations of the (usually inexplicit) culture they create through the way they run meetings? How do meetings play out in your organisation? And what…

Transform how you do business by changing your meeting culture

 I t is my view that HOW things get done has as much impact on bottom line performance as WHAT gets done in business. Most organisations have unhelpful patterns of behaviour that recur in the way people work together (in meetings). These disfunctionalities lead to slow and poor quality decision making. By looking at meeting…

Fat Lip Service. A message from AsiaPac.

I recently had a disarmingly honest conversation with a senior leader in a large organisation in Singapore. This person said, “When it comes to innovation, we are constantly giving ourselves a fat lip!”  If you are unfamiliar with this term, it’s not a cosmetic surgery enhancement. It’s a reference to getting a punch in the mouth…

Changing business culture through meetings

I work for all kinds of large organisations. They are all fascinatingly different — that’s why l love my job! And yet, I’ve not yet met an organisation that’s got it cracked when it comes to harnessing the power of people working together in a consistent and scalable way.

How can managers and leadership get 40 work days back?

 After all the weekends, public holidays, your own vacations and a few ‘not-feeling-very-well’ days are taken out of your year you’ll have a little over 200 days left to do your real work, and I’ve not counted travel time in any big way yet. If you’re in management of some description, expect about 80 of…

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One step?

Some really interesting research released today by CIPD in their Employee Outlook 2015 Survey got me thinking…again! In the survey, “around 50% of the 2,226 respondents described their organisation culture as ‘a formalised and structured place to work, where procedures govern what people do and hold people together.”

Katherine featured in radio interview

Our erstwhile leader, Katherine Woods, is featured in an interview on Voice America radio this Friday, 12th June, at 4pm UK time (GMT/BDT) and 8am USA Pacific Time (PDT). Please link to the interview above. The conversation will be about Katherine’s path and journey in her consultancy world and her current thinking about meetings and…

BBC Article on leadership trust is a good one

This article on the BBC News website on the 9th of June caught our eye. It frames the issue of trust of leadership quite well. It identifies the issue and uses some good examples of the need for trust. We find that the article struggles a little not so much on why leadership needs to…

Powerful statistics on costs of meetings

Authored by Fiona Stratford, Meeting Magic Facilitator Wow, really???!! I heard some statistics today that got me thinking–managers within businesses spend between 50% and 75% of their time in meetings, with the higher percentage relating to more senior managers and directors.This is interesting in itself but the scary bit is that of those meetings some…

Does science validate visual thinking and graphic meeting facilitation?

We know from experience and from thoughtful feedback that working visually and including graphics in meeting facilitation works tremendously and impactfully for groups, especially when making complex decisions. This article reinforces our experience and throws in some of the science around visual thinking and the impact graphic knowledge has on our brains. Enjoy the read!…

Meeting Magic

And you wonder why graphic facilitation is useful?

Reading this article reinforces for us the power of using graphic to record meeting and more importantly to have a neutral meeting facilitator to help disentangle the web of language we encounter every day. This is an excellent article. It gets us thinking about how we can support your communications with your various stakeholders and…

If you want an excellent adventure in visualizing meeting process!

We highly recommend this workshop by David Sibbet. If you can’t make it to our Advanced Facilitation Training workshop 9-10 July near London this is an alternative worth considering.

Conversations are the heart of connection and collaboration

When we run our open training course on advanced meeting facilitation there is a point in the training that always sparks debate. This happens when we explore the art of meeting design, when we refer to the sections of a meeting as ‘conversations’. These are the parts of a meeting that might traditionally be referred…

Simon Sinek: Why leaders eat last.

We know you may have seen this TED talk. Leadership may never be the same! Talk to us about your leadership and how to be what Simon is talking about. +44 (0)1628 471 114. Or, complete the contact form with some basic thoughts and we’ll get back to you.

Fiona Stratford: the expanding face of Meeting Magic.

Our team keeps growing and gaining depth in the process. Fiona Stratford joins us bringing a strong business background and a broad understanding of working with group process within the management and leadership strata of organisations. She has hit the ground running and is ready to speak with you about how she can support your…

Co-creation in organisations isn’t just for tree-huggers, its a leadership thing!

We know that sometimes the language of working together can get a little tree-huggie. Co-creation can sound like a trip in the woods with flowers in the hair. We get that.

Are consultative leaders really leading?

Leadership comes in many forms and leadership communications comes in many styles. Some leaders ‘tell’ as their primary leadership style, others ‘sell’ their ideas, and some will ‘test’ ideas in order to gain input and buy-in. Over the 16 years of our supporting clients we are discovering a new breed of leaders who understand that…

Is leadership comfortable with ‘testing’ ideas before committing?

Many leaders have clear visions and strategies that they communicate by ‘telling’ and ‘selling’ to stakeholders and the marketplace. ‘Telling’ and ‘selling’, when done well and within a solid communications strategy can be effective and get desired results.

Do leaders know how to ‘sell’ their strategies and ideas?

One of the most used skills of a leader is ‘selling’ their ideas and strategies whether to other organisational leaders, to employees, a broad range of stakeholders and to the general public marketplace. How ‘selling’ happens is critical to its success.

Can ‘tell’ be a strong leadership approach?

Sometimes leaders need to ‘tell’ people what the company is up to and how the leader wants to get results. Sometimes ‘telling’ is the most efficient and best way to communicate with his employees and stakeholders.

Are you a self-taught facilitator? Need some help?

Self-taught facilitators are heroes to us because they work hard to get results, create conversations, and find agreement. Their facilitation skills become the foundation for strong learning by both adding value and helping align their experience with facilitation best-practices, and adding some highly useful theory to create a solid thought foundation for ongoing work.

Does your organisation need a reinvention?

I have been inspired whilst reading the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. This book has hit the button for me as I have been considering the work we do with our clients and why collaboration feels so hard in some organisations while being so natural in others.

The end of meetings as we know it? And, a way to save a precious commodity!

Our own research does not indicate that this is true and we have not been able to verify it as yet. Evidence at the meetings we attend (and, yes, at our own internal meetings as well) seems to indicate this is not the case. However, perhaps by having good meetings we can also save chocolate!…

Collaboration: the art of co-creation

The word ‘collaboration’ seems to have entered mainstream business language and I am aware that it means slightly different things to different people. However, the biggest variance I see is in HOW different organisations go about fostering collaboration. The paragraphs below are some thoughts and ideas about how we go about this, based on my…

Simon Sinek: Start with why!

Another Simon TED talk. This one from 2013. The Golden Circle talk about why, how and what. Interesting and inspiring!

Do you need advanced facilitation skills?

Have you been wanting to add to your current skill sets in your meeting facilitation work? We have the solution. Consider our Advanced Facilitation Training on 9th & 10th July near London. Read more about the training or contact us and we can discuss whether the workshop is a fit for your learning goals. Join…

Celebrating one year of Scribing Magic!

One year ago today we launched our co-brand, Scribing Magic, to highlight our graphic and visual thinking services. What a year it has been. Thanks to our clients who have engaged Scribing Magic and our team of graphic recorders. During this year they have provided graphics for meetings, corporate animations, illustrations, cartooning for companies, storymaps…

Senior leaders and managers ‘get’ what they need to do.

In a recent blog, Katherine said, “Most senior leaders are intelligent and they ‘get’ that they need to collaborate and that collaboration is needed in their organisations.” We firmly believe this. Every day we work with and support highly skilled, thoughtful, focused and talented leaders and managers.

Virtual calls can go wrong and they can go right. Dave Grady demonstrates the former.

Once again, Dave Grady challenges our thinking about meetings. This time the virtual sort, the kind that by necessity are becoming more common. His humour points to the problems and also seeds the opportunities for fixing your virtual meetings. We can help you fix them. Call us on +44 90)20 1628 471 114 or complete…

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A blended approach to meetings improves decision making

Most dispersed groups meet 2 or 3 or 4 times a year for face-to-face meetings. These meetings then become critical forums for the group to make decisions together, and form relationships that will tide them over until the next f2f meeting. This often leads to crammed agendas and rushed decisions. By taking a blended approach…

Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe

This TED talk from about a year ago still inspires our thinking about leadership and the capacity for success.

We do meetings, too!

The Meeting Magic / Scribing Magic team are going into our quarterly meeting. What we do with clients in our meeting facilitation and culture work with them we also do with our own processes. We’ll be working on our new vision, planning and some personal development. We’ll be looking at our own meeting culture issues…

Attention and energy: how to gain the most value from meetings

This article was written by Katherine Woods and was first published in July 2013.  I’ve been facilitating meetings for nearly 20 years. It makes me feel old just saying that! During that time, many things have changed. In the early days, the Internet was still in its infancy. I remember sending emails on a painfully…

Beyond Content: Meetings have meaning that reflects the quality of the organisation

 Meeting Magic has been facilitating meetings for large organisations for 14 years. During this time, I’ve had numerous conversations with clients and participants about the meetings in their organisations. These usually result in the person ranting about how much they dislike the meeting culture in their business. I’ve worked with so many different people from…

More evidence for whole brain meeting design and meeting culture.

We always get excited when we find interesting thinking about visual thinking. We, of course, advocate for visual thinking in all meetings and when creating a new meeting culture. This article graphically shows why the whole brain works best in communicating and engaging with others.

Leaders who are arrogant, competitive, hierarchical and egotistical make @#*^$ decisions

How to grow the business sustainably and profitably? That’s the question most leaders are wrestling with at the moment. But we live in a fast changing, complex world in which no one person has all the answers. Last month, as part of our conversation about the 5C’s of facilitation, I talked about the need for…

Meeting Magic

Friday the 13th is a chill day.

  Sit back. Have a cup of coffee, tea, chocolate, milk or whatever helps you relax. Take a deep breath and enjoy the day. No need to stress. The weekend is upon you. Take a sip and chill. We’re taking a break from seriousness. Join us just for today.

Want to advance your facilitation skills?

Our Advanced Facilitation Training workshop is coming up in July. Take a look at the workshop information on the website then contact us to discuss whether you are right for participation. Our selection criteria for delegates requires at least three years group process facilitation, experience with uncovering desired meeting outcomes, substantive agenda design, leading meetings…

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Can humour change meeting culture? Dave Grady has a go at it.

Dave Grady is using humour to move people’s thinking about meetings and the culture surrounding them. This one tackles one meeting syndrome and highlights some important messages for moving from bad meetings to good meetings. It can be done.

Why do only 10% of meetings result in action?

Our own surveys have repeatedly shown that just 10% of meetings result in action. Meaning 90% of meetings do not. Why is this and what can be done about it?

Should you ban meetings?

I continue to be amazed at the distracting thinking that happens around meetings. The latest doozie I’m seeing pandered about is that meetings should be banned or ban meetings one day a week. Seriously. Ban meetings.

Do you see your company here?

We’ve added a new case study so you can see more of the kinds of work we have been doing and can do for you. Have a quick read and let us know how we can help you with your meeting facilitation needs. Give us a call at +44 (0)20 1628 471 114 or complete…

Huffington Post gets it right!

At last I am reading something in the media about the positive impact that meetings can have! This article in the Huffington Post, Bored Boards Are Bad for Busniess. Smart Companies are Fixing That. (February, 2015) highlights how powerful meetings can be (and, frankly, should be) particularly at leadership level.

Meeting Magic

Do you have the right people in your meetings?

Ah meetings! You gotta love ’em. Or not. The love of meetings comes with having effective meetings. Sometimes the effectiveness of meetings rely on who is in the room and what they bring to the meeting.

Mankins (2004)

Are you creating a list or networking?

It is so easy to get caught up in creating lists of people you know but not networking with them to improve your connections in ways that have huge benefits.

Are you authentic?

 If truly connecting with people and, in our context, colleagues in the work environment requires authenticity are you authentic? What does being authentic mean? The importance of being authentic, genuine or lacking falsehood is both how you are perceived and how you interact with others. Being authentic in the workplace usually brings respect, high regard…

David Sibbet

Our good friend and mentor, David Sibbet, has posted a considered reflection on the state of graphic facilitation in today’s meeting world. While graphics is one way Meeting Magic support clients our thinking on this continues to evolve as does David’s. Have a good read.

Meeting Magic

Are you connecting with the right people?

In our January newsletter we introduced the concept of the 5C’s as the attributes of how leaders need to work in our fast changing world. We have chosen to explore CONNECTION first because, as I see it, a leader needs to decide WHO to involve before starting to collaborate and co-create. The best collaboration in…

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Meeting Magic

A question of leadership

This Katherine Woods article first appeared in May 2012.  I am frequently asked to help clients to manage meetings following a reorganisation. One of the most common types of reorganisation involves new leadership. Over the years, I’ve helped many people in new leadership positions and have developed strong, long-term relationships with them. Thankfully, many have taken…

A moving situation for leaders: reflections with Chris Shepherd

This article by Katherine Woods first appeared in January 2013.  I like to make my articles practical and helpful for our readers. My most recent experience of new leaders has come through my work in supporting clients whose roles have changed. So, for this article I’ve enlisted the help of Chris Shepherd, an established client of…

Putting principles into practice

In The Principles of Facilitation, David Sibbet of The Grove Consultants International defines facilitation as: “The art of leading people through processes toward agreed-upon objectives in a manner that encourages participation, ownership and creativity from all involved.” This shows that it isn’t just a role for someone at the front of a meeting, but a…

Persuasion is the poorest way to change mindset

I f you think about the times in your life when something profoundly changed your view, I’ll bet is was an experience that lead to your changing your mind. It is this philosophy that underpins our approach to the deployment of business direction and strategy. We create an experience that enables people to hear, see…

Collins & Porass (1998)

Leaders should focus on achieving more in meetings, not less!!

 I saw this sign in the foyer of a Crowne Plaza yesterday. This reminded me of how much emphasis is put into reducing the cost of meetings, and how little, by comparison, is put into leveraging the benefits. If businesses could really harness the people power in meetings then I think they would think very differently…

John Kotter’s What Leaders Really Do

Katherine concurs with John Kotter’s comments in his Harvard Business Review article called What Leaders Really Do about the difference between long-range planning and leadership through setting direction. However, his description of aligning sounds quite ‘tell’ and doesn’t explore other ways of aligning through testing, collaborating, conversations, consulting and co-creating, which is the space we…

Gallup (2014)

Stephen Covey

Large meetings & conferences; ban the razzmatazz

I am working with several clients on large events at the moment. As I reflect on this work, I notice the contrasting approaches between the clients I have worked with for a long time and those who are new to Meeting Magic’s approach.

Meeting Magic

Meeting Magic

Is meeting murder?

I am compelled to write this having just read the London Times article They Say It’s Good to Talk but in Business, Meeting is Murder by Sathnam Sanghera. I need to have a rant!!!

What is the real cause of unproductive meetings?

Following an earlier post I found the attached infographic, which supports my arguments about the hidden cost of unproductive meetings in the workplace. I like the visual way this is produced. It shows the power of combining pictures and words.

The dynamic 5C’s of meeting culture.

In today’s business world of constant change leaders need to find new ways to work. We have outlined these ways in the 5C’s below. Over the next two quarters we plan to explore each of these 5C’s in more detail, pulling together our current thinking and making connections with other thought leaders.

Facilitative Leadership

I have just re-read Good to Great by Jim Collins. I am struck by the description of Level 5 leadership, described in the book, and how many of the characteristics are those of a facilitative leader. My experience of reading this book was like the ugly duckling looking in the pond. Here is a book…

The virtual vs face to face debate

The Magic of Meetings – More than meets the eye

For many years we have held a belief that there is more to meetings than meets the eye. Meetings, which we define as any time two or more people get together to do work that cannot be achieved by just one person, not only remain essential but also have the power to transform the performance…

Facilitation – advanced skills in empathy aren’t enough!

I had a great conversation with a client this week, who gave me the title of this Blog post. We were talking about how I increasingly use my experience, as the founder and leader of Meeting Magic, in my support of leaders. Since its conception, I have aimed to run Meeting Magic in a collaborative and…

Meeting Magic’s large events and conferences offer.

Meeting Magic has large group facilitation expertise that enables us to design and facilitate engaging meetings that drive action back in the workplace. Organisations are becoming wise to the cost of large meetings and the potential opportunity they hold. By bringing together large groups of people, you can effect change quickly and consistently–but only if…

Meeting Magic’s meeting facilitation offer.

Meeting Magic can help you get the most from your meetings.  We tend to work with our clients on particularly important meetings such as: starting a new project; a leaders first meeting with a new team; a leadership team developing new strategy; a new team; solving a long term problem; and, large group engagements /…

The big education disconnect.

The image below is a chart I produced as a summary of desk research about talent in the field of science and engineering. Whilst this research was specific to technical talent issues, I hear this talent issue raised at boardroom level in all my clients organisations. All the large organisations I work with have concerns…

Changing your meeting culture

 The problem with meetings today isn’t necessarily that one meeting has challenges or that one meeting leader has issues. The problem with meetings in organisations is usually a systemic problem that needs systemic solutions. It is no secret to anyone that meetings take too much time and resources. Our own research demonstrates that managers spend…

Leadership’s role in decision making.

What role does a manager take in decision making in a large organisation? How do decisions get made versus how should they be made? This is a common thread I hear in the conversations I am having with many leaders at the moment. How do managers manage the teams that work for them with regard…

Facilitation: the invisible difference

Last week I was facilitating a meeting in Paris. One of the participants who is an experienced facilitator gave me the following feedback: I have learnt a great deal from working with you over the last three days. You are an incredibly skillful facilitator and yet you are almost invisible.’

All that glitters is not gold.

When I was recently in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States for work with one of our great clients I had the pleasure of going to the Bluebird café. It’s a small, low-key venue where songwriters and musicians perform their own music, in the round, up close with the audience. There’s an informality and rapport…

Learning to be a facilitator—training or upbringing?

This is international facilitation week. I have been asked to write a piece about facilitation skill development. As I approached this topic, I started to wonder: are facilitators trained or bred? Here’s what I mean….

Happy international facilitators week!

We are happy to be involved in the best profession ever. Professional facilitation is interesting, exciting, challenging and at times down right fun! This is International Facilitators Week.

Why we go to conferences and events.

The two main reasons people go to conferences and events are to meet new people with common interests and to learn from fresh perspectives. Meeting Magic was recently invited to open the Association of Business Psychologists (ABP) conference with a World Café session.

Changing your meeting culture

The problem with meetings today isn’t necessarily that one meeting has challenges or that one meeting leader has issues. The problem with meetings in organisations is usually a systemic problem that needs systemic solutions.

What a way to start a meeting!

I saw this sign on my walk today and thought it would make a perfect welcome poster for meetings we run. Open the door and vwalla….  

The Collaboration Conundrum: Pain and Gain

 Why does thinking about collaboration cause so much pain? With all the challenges of the current business environment, why is collaboration the one way of working that doesn’t seem to get quality attention? Is the pain of NOT working together not strong enough to see the potential gains of true collaboration? Leaders of large businesses…

Educating the children of today for the leadership roles of tomorrow

I am looking at senior schools for my son at the moment. Last night I went to an open evening at a local school. The Headmaster gave a thought provoking talk about the ethos of the school. He started by saying that our children will be retiring in about 2070 and, given the rate of change…

The psychology of meetings – why don’t people tell the truth?

You can tell Autumn is on its way, the leaves are turning, the hedgerows are full of berries and… the TV is full of XFactor! I must admit that the audition phase of XFactor is my guilty pleasure. It’s just an amazing cacophony of human behaviour – from the humble teenager who doesn’t know the…

Is it possible to balance joy and fear in leadership?

A few weeks ago I was reading an article in The Sunday Times (London) by Sean Langan (Home Sweet Hell, June 8, 2014). He was writing about his experience of being held captive by the Taliban. He was tortured, regularly suffered fever and dysentery and lived with the threat of execution for three years.

If not the research, will the question move you to act?

We are about to embark on our latest research project on corporate meetings. I find myself wondering why. In fact, I find myself wondering why bother. Meeting Magic has invested into research projects since its foundation in 1999. Also during that time we have facilitated thousands of meetings. The conclusions are consistent—both statistically and anecdotally—the…

#meetingstats: Meetings waste $37bn a year

Badly run meetings steal productivity, costing organisations 37 billion dollars a year. Industry Week calls meetings ‘the Great White Collar Crime.’ * Source: Industry Week.

The story of the unicycling MC and other ways of avoiding purpose….

Meetings in large organisations fall into two categories – regular meetings and special meetings. Special meetings are usually driven by change – change in leadership, organisation, direction etc. When a special meeting is initiated there is usually great intention, but somehow along the way this gets lost.

#meetingnotes: Steven Gary Blank

Taking a systemic view of internal meetings

Meeting Magic works with large organisations to take a systemic look at their meetings. Meetings have the power to harness group potential and deliver competitive advantage, but often regular internal meetings do not get the best from people. By taking a look at internal meetings through the lenses of productivity, engagement and alignment to strategy,…

Harnessing the power of the group

Whilst I was in Singapore last week I met Andy Ridley, CEO of Earth Hour. Earth Hour is an organisation of only 6 people, who facilitate profound conservation projects around the world through crowd sourcing and crowd funding. I was struck by many things that Andy talked about, in particular a connection with Meeting Magic…

#meetingstats: Meeting facilitation really works.

Meeting facilitation really works. *According to an article in the Fall 2006 issue of The Facilitator newsletter, using a skilled facilitator increases the productivity of a project by 25%.

Driving business impact from employee engagement surveys

Many large organisations now do employee engagement surveys on a regular basis. This is a trend that seems to have grown over the last 10 yrs. But what impact are they delivering at an organisational level? Are they enabling better  business results? Or are they delivering better employee morale and retention?

Driving business impact from employee engagement surveys

Many large organisations now do employee engagement surveys on a regular basis. This is a trend that seems to have grown over the last 10 yrs. But what impact are they delivering at an organisational level? Are they enabling better  business results? Or are they delivering better employee morale and retention?

The power of ‘sorry’

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to facilitate a conversation between two families. The families each have a teenage girl and a dispute had formed between the girls that was affecting both the families. I have never facilitated families or adolescents before, and I admit I was concerned about how they would engage.…

Do you spend meeting time persuading or making robust decisions?

I work with large organisations  to develop more productive, creative and engaging meeting culture. I am noticing an interesting pattern in some organisations where meetings seem to be used to just get sign off or approval. In these organisations, huge amounts of time is spent preparing presentations, with masses of extra slides ‘just in case’, so that junior members of…

Learnings from strategy development and deployment

When I look at my schedule of client work, most of it falls into the category of strategy development and deployment, regardless of the type of organisation. For example, I am working with the board of a small charitable organisation who have reached a cross roads because of funding, this means they need to take a…

Communicating with Aliens….

It was half term last week and I took my children to the National Space Centre in Leicester, I can recommend it 🙂

How not to facilitate…

I happened to switch on my TV last night and caught Richard Bacon doing a great job of demonstrating the antithesis of facilitation on Channel 4s Benefits Britain – The Debate.

Creating a safe place to work

I am enjoying reading Simon Sinek’s new book, ‘Leaders Eat last – why some teams pull together and others don’t’. His observations and insights resonate with my experience, both as a facilitator, and the leader of a business. In particular I am struck by what he says about the need to create safety in the workplace,…

What does swimming have to do with strategy deployment?…. read on…..

I was speaking this morning with Pete, a friend of mine who does personal fitness training. He told me about a swimming training programme he runs for adults, that is proving very successful. His approach is to focus on one aspect of swimming technique at a time. He trains this in a 1:1 session, then leaves…

Meeting Madness

There is a common theme in the conversations I have been having with many of my clients recently. It goes like this… ‘I spend all my day in back to back meetings. The online calendar does not allow time between meetings, so I am always running late. When I get to the end of the…

Strategy deployment – part 2

A few weeks ago I had a bit of a rant about the myth of telling = understanding = action which unpicks most strategy deployment.

The pathology of helping and being helped

I had a conversation with a colleague this week, who has a family member suffering from an eating disorder. She was sharing her frustration and concern at this person not being willing to accept the help being offered to her. I know from my own experience, of living with someone with depression, the help we…

Collaborative Leadership

How does a leader who has not been effectively collaborated with, learn to be a collaborative leader? I am starting to realise this is the dilemma for the leadership of many organisations. Whilst they intellectually get the need to engage their people, in a collaborative way, many of them have been raised with ‘old style’…

Strategy deployment myth

There seems to be a common misconception when it comes to the deployment of strategy in large organisations: “Telling = Understanding = Aligned action.” If only it was that simple!!!!

Meetings – the pivot points of organisational change

Today I met with a couple of clients who are looking to use key business meetings as pivot points for organisational change. It was great to meet these kindred spirits. I have been having more and more of these kinds of conversations with clients. It seems there is a growing realisation in the Organisational Design…

Group decision making dynamics when buying puppies

In July my cocker spaniel, Lula, gave birth to a litter of puppies. We are now at the stage of finding suitable homes for the puppies. This process has involved families coming to our home, looking at the puppies and deciding which one they want. Observing families in their decision making processes has given me food for…

Spotting the blind spots in a group

I have just been to the Hygienist today for a routine scale and polish. At the end of my appointment the Hygienist took time to tell me which areas of my mouth are showing the most plaque build up, because I am missing them in my routine teeth cleaning.

Dreadful corporate away days

Oh my goodness! I have just caught up with last week’s episode of The Apprentice. This is a UK TV show in which Alan Sugar, aka Lord Sugar, gives a group of young business people, Apprentices, a series of tasks. The programme series culminates in Lord Sugar choosing an Apprentice whose business he will invest…

Is your meeting a puzzle or a mystery?

Most of the meetings I get called in to facilitate are complex. Companies don’t tend to bring in external support for the day-to-day stuff, so it tends to be the tricky ones that get our attention.  I am often working with global groups, who have been brought together to resolve complex, strategic business problems. A chapter…

Work / life integration

There is a theme in the conversations I have been having since the new year. The theme is about, what I call, work / life integration. This stems from the move away from 9-5pm working, as a result of globalisation. People in global roles need to take calls when it fits with overseas colleagues, which often means…

How to have a conversation?

The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines conversation as: ‘Talk between two or more people, in which thoughts, feelings and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered or news and information are exchanged’

The dynamics of new groups

There seems to be a remarkable amount of churn or reorganisation going on amongst our clients at the moment, and, at the same time, we enter a new a academic year. All this leads to many people  being in new groups, both as leaders and participants.

Adding Magic to board meetings

In Meeting Magic we like to practice what we preach. All our team meetings are well prepared, participants are involved in the preparation, and we have well defined OARRs. However, I recently found myself being rather bored in our board meeting!

Don’t give up on meetings

This week I have been reading a book on growing businesses, by an American business consultant. In the chapter on personal productivity, the author recommends declining invitations to all meetings, on the basis that they are not a good use of time. My reaction to this…

Meetings in stately homes and castles

I was asked today for some advice on using castles and stately homes as meeting venues. My thoughts below might be useful to anyone considering this type of venue for a meeting.

The virtual vs face to face debate

I recently read this article about why virtual meetings won’t replace face to face meetings. In principle I agree with this view. Fundamentally we are human beings, and the virtual space does not fulfill our human instinct to connect with people. When there is a need for work to be done by a group that…

Getting action after meetings

There are situations where a little bit more meeting time is worth so much more than time outside a meeting. I experienced it recently in a meeting where I only had a 60 minute slot. This meant we agreed that people would send me their ideas afterward the meeting.

National Doodle Day

Today is National Doodle Day. As the visual information revolution continues, there are is increasing interest in the benefits of Doodling in the workplace.

Managing time in meetings

The press this morning was full of news about Adele flipping the finger at the Brit Awards. Her acceptance speech was cut short as they were running out of time. This made me think of all the times I have had to manage speakers who lose track of time whilst presenting in meetings. Whilst our…

Taking facilitation to the next level

We are in the run up to our next advanced facilitation training course. This course is our flagship course, as it attracts diverse participants with rich experience of facilitation, so we are always developing and improving the programme.

A quick rant about leadership development

I am compelled to comment on an article I have just read, ‘What Makes a Good Leader’, available online at Director Magazine I work with senior executives in large organisations and I can see that the old style command-and-control leadership no longer works. Leaders need to earn their leadership positions, engage their staff and win…

The missing link in Leadership development

I am going to have a bit of a rant I am afraid. However, I am very interested to hear whether anyone has views on this subject….

Designing meetings with the furniture

Yesterday I had a conversation with a client of mine, about the venue for a meeting we have coming up. Our discussion was about how we use the layout, lighting and general set-up of the venue, to support symbolic transitions in the meeting. I was interested to hear that, in her past experience of working…

FT Innovate 2011

Last week Meeting Magic facilitated the closing session at the 2011 FT Innovate conference. We ran the session as a world café (Meeting Magic style) and used this process to understand the big questions about innovation. We then went on to explore the insights and learnings from the conference. The session was an innovative close…

Two firsts for Meeting Magic

A couple of interesting pieces of news for Meeting Magic. 1. Last week was the IFVP (International Forum for Visual Practitioners) conference in Hawaii. On the fringe of the conference two of my colleagues (one from the UK and one from the USA) met up to do some work together. They decided to have a…

The need for reflection in getting decisions to stick

I had an interesting experience of being facilitated this week. It was an intense 2 hour meeting to resolve a long standing problem. My experience was that I left the meeting feeling like we had made progress, and reasonably OK with the decisions we agreed.

Too much data, not enough information

I have been struck recently by how much data gets presented in meetings. I think that technology contributes to this problem, by making it so easy to connect laptops to beamers and present endless amounts of powerpoint and spreadsheets.

We don’t know what we don’t know…. about working with large groups

I have had the interesting experience of working with a client to develop a large group meeting. This client has a very traditional view of what is possible with a large group. I find myself having conversations with her and I am sure that the video playing in her head has been different from my…

The definition of a great conference…

At the end of the San Francisco conference that we facilitated last week, a participant came up to me and said, ‘I knew this conference was going really well when, I put my name badge on each morning, and I didn’t get a feeling of impending doom!’ It sounds like some of his previous off…

Connecting and engaging large groups

I often get asked whether there is an optimim number of people for a meeting. This question usually stems from a concern, by meeting leaders, about having ‘too many people in the meeting’.

Working with LIVING graphics

I am currently in San Francisco, facilitating a Global Summit for a client. I have been here since Sunday evening and I am completely exhausted. I have only had about 8 hours sleep since Saturday night.This has been partially due to jetlag, but mainly because we are working with some LIVING graphic storymaps.

What our facilitators really want

Over the last 12 months we have been having conversations with people interested in joining the Meeting Magic Network of facilitators. It has been fascinating to find out what our existing facilitators really enjoy about our network. In order to attract like-minded spirits into our team, we have updated our website. If you know anyone…

Lessons in group decision making from children

My 8 year old daughter came home from a school trip very excited on Thursday. Her class had been to the local park to do a project. First they had to create a map of the park and then they had to draw ideas for improvement on the map.

A facilitator’s dilemma

Facilitation is an art, not a science, so we continually have to use our trained intuition to make judgements in the groups we work with. Here’s a great example of a facilitation dilemma from a colleague of mine. What would you have done?

Post conference reflections

I am sitting in the lounge at Seattle Airport waiting for my flight home after three long days of facilitation. I smell, my feet are sore and my body clock has no idea what time it is… but I feel great.

Facilitation skills for leaders

Most large organisations continually go through cycles of change, in order to remain competitive. In this day and age, it’s not enough to command and control a workforce through organisational change.

Funny facilitation

I am a big supporter of the work done by Comic Relief. The idea of doing seriously valuable work, through having fun, sits well with me.

Raising money for comic relief

Today is Red Nose day. I am offering advice on meetings, conferences,….. anything facilitation related in exchange for a donation to comic relief. Some things I can help with that you might find useful handling tricky people in the meeting / conference making a meeting / conference interactive and engaging working out the best way…

Making round-table discussions work

When I work with large groups I always design my meetings for a ‘cabaret’ layout. By this I mean, round tables with groups of upto 8. This layout allows a meeting design that gives depth of discussion at tables, and conclusion sharing in a whole group.

Getting action after meetings

This week I was in a training session with an IT developer. We got talking about an IT solution he is working on, to track actions from meetings.

Facilitating Reality TV

I facilitated a meeting this week for 32 reality TV producers. Apart from really enjoying working with a group of really professional, creative people, I was struck by some of the comparisons in our work, such as…

Facilitating feedback

At this time of year many of us are involved in reviews and planning for the forthcoming year. This also tends to be a time when people pay attention to reviewing themselves and their personal development.

The power of facilitative working

Today I had a meeting with a client. It was just the two of us in the meeting, to discuss a project we are working on for 2011/12.

New Year resolutions

Here we are at the start of another year, a time when it is customary for people to make New Year resolutions, like ‘write my blog more frequently’:-)

Interesting facts about meetings in the UK

I am just back from speaking at a conference for the Meeting Industry Association. Most of the delegates were sales and marketing representatives from meeting venues.

Thunderbolts and Lightning, very very exciting

Just back from facilitating a two day session at an Innovation conference for the Higher Education sector. Our session had a real buzz to it and was the talk of the conference.

Meeting face to face

This week I have been facilitating a global meeting for a large international organisation. This seems to be a trend amongst many of the large organisations we work with. This is the third meeting of this type we have run in the last two weeks. It seems that the travel bans of the last couple…

The impact of unexpected facilitation

Today I met with a group of friends / colleagues who I met on a post-graduate course last year. Someone else had organised the get-together and the purpose was unclear. I wanted to meet everyone, but also wanted to ensure the day was a good use of my time. So, I decided to give some…

Great venue, great meeting

A few weeks ago I wrote about facilitating a meeting in, what can only be described as a sense deprivation cubicle! At the end of last week I had the opposite experience. I facilitated a meeting in the board room of an agency in London which was fantastic.

Essentials of Facilitation Training

Still on a high from running our first Essentials of Facilitation training programme 🙂 This is an open programme, with all the essentials needed to facilitate productive meetings distilled into one day. It’s aimed at anyone who runs meetings and we had a great group of participants in this first offering.

The room from hell and the power of improvisation

Yesterday I facilitated a workshop at a Branding Conference and was unable to know the room details until I arrived. I had done all my preparation, and had a creative design to get 30 people engaged in some work in a 90 minute session. Then I saw the room!!!

Helping all meeting leaders have productive meetings

Why aren’t all managers taught to run productive meetings? We know… managers spend 30% of their time in meetings 46% of meetings result in no action

The children are back at school, so what about our learning and development?

I think I am not alone to be relieved to have my children back at school! I love the summer holidays, but all good things must come to an end :-)!

It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you draw it!

In two recent meetings I have been struck by the way people interpret the way things are drawn. As a graphic facilitator, this is something I pay attention to anyway, but the specific thing I have noticed is the UNINTENTIONED MEANING people can add to something because of the way it is drawn.

Just hanging out together

This week Meeting Magic celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary. To honour this occasion we went to Henley Regatta for the day. We all dressed for the occasion, and thoroughly enjoyed being spoiled rotten.

Going the extra mile for a meeting

In Meeting Magic we talk about ‘going the extra mile’ to ensure that a meeting is successful. This week, we have been tested to see whether we really will walk the talk.

Feedback playlist

Last week I ran a facilitation training. As usual at the end of the course, I asked the delegates to complete a feedback form, to assist with the continuous improvement of the programme.

A metaphor for facilitation

This blog entry is a bit rude, so please don’t read this if you are easily offended!  

Putting YOU into your Facilitation

This week I traveled to Switzerland to take part in a facilitation demo with a handful of facilitators who work with The International Union for Conservation of Nature. It was a real honour to be invited to take part in this session, which was aimed at showcasing a variety of different facilitation approaches.

Out there, beyond tangible outcomes

Several of my early blog entries extolled the virtues of having clear outcomes for meetings, and the importance of outcomes for each session within a meeting. I still believe that for 99% of business situations this is appropriate advice, and that the lack of outcome focus is the main cause of poor meetings.

What is advanced facilitation?

I have had a number of conversations in the past fortnight about ‘advanced facilitation’.   There are some facilitators that believe that having a broader array of tools and techniques makes someone a more advanced facilitator. Having mulled this over, I think there was a stage in my development, as a facilitator, when more tools…

Facilitative Leadership

There is a myth, that a facilitators role is a passive one. One in which they might record points of discussion faithfully, or offer time checks meekly! I once heard a horror story from a client, who hired a facilitator. Not a Meeting Magic facilitator I hasten to add.

Doing more with less

It seems that many of the clients I am working with at the moment are saying they need to be doing more with less.

The Power of The Circle

Today the Meeting Magic team have been facilitating a large meeting for 350 people. One of the great things about the meeting was the room we were in, and the layout. We worked in a HUGE circular room, arranged with cabaret-style tables of 6 in concentric circles, with a small stage in the middle.

Collaborating through virtual meetings

The use of virtual meetings (conference calls, video conferences, web-based meetings) is on the increase, as a result of globalisation and technological advances. However, in the current economic downturn, budgets are being slashed and travel bans enforced, which means people are turning to virtual meetings where it is not appropriate.

Managing information in meetings

I was speaking at a conference for the Institute of Grocery and Distribution last week and was pleasantly surprised that the group asked about tips for managing information in meetings. This area is so vital to having productive conversations in meetings. Information is like the currency that gets exchanged in meetings, but it needs to…

Back seat facilitation!

I have just come back from presenting at the Microsoft Worldwide conference in Houston. After my presentation we hosted a lounge discussion and book signing, which lead to several follow-up questions from participants who had been in our presentation. There was a common thread to the questions, about how to apply our approach to meetings when…

It’s about conversations

Meetings should be about conversations that move our organisations forward, but all too often this gets forgotten and they become forums in which people present at each other and the dialogue gets lost.

Engaging Leadership in your meetings

Don’t underestimate the role of the most senior person in your meetings! I have learnt the hard way that it is critical to the success of any meeting to engage the most senior participants in the design.

Making time to prepare for successful meetings

Making time to prepare for meetings is time well spent. A common cause of ineffective meetings is that no one has thought through the preparation, so time is wasted in the meeting sorting out things that could have been done in advance. Taking a day to prepare for a one day meeting with 12 participants…

Differentiating between process and content

When we facilitate meetings the expertise we bring is in the design of the process to enable productive conversations. This is how we are able to facilitate meetings for such a diverse range of groups.

Purpose, Outcomes and Outputs

I have completely disappeared off this blog for the last couple of months, as I have been publishing my new book (‘Meeting Magic’ available from www.meetingmagic.co.uk). However, I have reappeared from the mysterious world of book publishing and now vowe to keep this blog more up to date.

Introductions

It never ceases to amaze me how much lost opportunity there is in the introductions at the start of meetings. A few weeks ago I lead a meeting in which the meeting owner said she would lead the introductions. She said that the group knew each other and that they only needed to share their…

Keeping meetings on track

OK, so I haven’t been blogging much over the summer, but here I am back to offer some advice on how to prevent problematic meetings. I have been inspired to keep adding more information via this blog after reading a book on Leadership which had a section on meetings. It was full of the usual…

The problem with meetings….

I have decided to start the blog so that I can rant about how appalling most meetings are and also offer an alternative way of managing meetings to those that want to pioneer a different way of working.