seprator

meeting facilitation

seprator
10January 2017
blog_shape
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 used to spend Boxing Day with friends at Kempton Park horse races. It was always a fun, albeit usually cold and windy, day out – a chance to catch up with friends, blow the cobwebs away, and enjoy the competitive spirit of horse racing. Race meets aren’t much fun with small children so, with the birth of my children came the birth of a new idea: “Why not have a day at the races from home!?” It started with two families getting together and has evolved over the years to its most recent format with 40 people. What I love about the way this event has changed is that everyone can bring their families, with at least three generations mingling together. It grows each year with new families joining us, and everyone has a great time, including me. So, here is my formula for a great Boxing Day Races party –
  • Each family that's invited can bring their relatives along, as long as they bring enough leftovers to feed them!
  • I provide tables for the food, plates and cutlery and I cook baked potatoes to accompany them.
  • When people arrive they put out their offerings and everyone shares what they have brought to the party.
  • Each person places £10 into a sweepstake for the race.
  • Each person then bets on one horse per race and gets three points for first place, two points for second and one point for third.
  • The races are televised, so, in between eating and drinking, we watch the races. It's very noisy as people really get into supporting the horses they bet on.
  • At the end of the race meet we tot up the scores and award prizes.
  • This year we reached a new level of self-organisation – one of my friends created an app! Everyone placed their bets from their phones before they arrived, or on arrival, and the scores popped up on the app as the day unfolded.
  So here are the principles of self-organisation demonstrated here
  • a common purpose – to have a good time
  • a leader who is willing to let go of control – I am always happy to eat drink and be merry!
  • ways of working, including decision making, that are understood by all – in the rules of the betting and the roles everyone takes
  • an effective induction and integration of new people. I love the way that each year the core partygoers explain the format to the newcomers.
  • the space for people to take the initiative and improve the system – the app!
My experience is that self-organisation appeals to the core of human nature, for people to take control of their environments. It inspires passion and responsibility in those involved, and releases the leader from the constraints of needing to control, so that she can be free to lead the fun. So, as we enter 2017, a fresh new year, have a think about which elements of self-organisation you might want to integrate into your life. Happy New 2017!
12December 2016
blog_shape
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 invisible to others and sometimes unknown to the individual concerned. 2) My power to act was in creating the conditions for people to ignite inspiration, motivation and commitment in themselves. This came as a bit of a relief, because the leadership philosophy of my youth was to develop ‘Martin Luther King-like’ presentation skills, to rally the troops. Unfortunately, I found myself lacking in these skills. However, what I am able to do is create the conditions for rich dialogue in which people inspire themselves. I have learnt that the level of commitment and motivation people can create among themselves is far greater than I can achieve by imposing my views. This might sound a bit fluffy… Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that just by getting a group together inspiration, motivation and commitment will magically emerge, far from it. The conditions for rich dialogue require structure, intentionality and attention to the subtle biases in our culture that get in the way of self-motivation. I also don’t want to sound dismissive of presenters who have the ability to inspire. The growth in popularity of TED Talks is proof that there are people all over the world who have the ability to inspire through their stories. The art of taking that inspiration and landing it in action is the dialogue that follows. When we create structured dialogue it has the power to unleash motivation and commitment. Let me give a specific example… A common approach taken in business meetings is to have presentations followed by question and answer sessions (Q&A). If we unpack that approach, the implications are:
  • The presenter has the answer to the group’s questions
  • ·Implying that the expertise lies with the presenter, rather than the group, unconsciously disempowering the group
If we shift the emphasis in this approach to… STIMULUS – short, impactful presentations in easy-to-digest format, aimed at stimulating the listener’s thinking. (For ideas on how to do this, take a look at Nancy Duarte’s philosophy on engaging communication http://www.duarte.com/) CLARIFICATION – a chance to ask for points of clarification DIALOGUE – about where the stimulus takes people’s thinking, what it might mean and the implications for the work in hand. … then we are much more likely to light the touch-paper of motivation. If we haven’t then it will be apparent in the dialogue, whereas in the presentation format I first proposed, dissent and lack of motivation remains hidden. So, to go back to the title question, I think that inspiration, motivation and commitment lie within each of us. These are not things that can be ‘done’ to us by others, they can only come by unleashing what we have inside us. If you are charged with getting others to be inspired, motivated and committed, then my offer to you is to invest your energy in the design of high-quality dialogue, rather than searching for inspirational speakers.
27October 2016
blog_shape
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 with colleagues and partners, to progress work with 'many heads' involved, not just one. We all feel we 'should' know how to do this, and yet it feels like wading through treacle. Even the more tech-savvy younger generation, for whom the technology isn't a boundary, are not getting the productivity benefits promised by the tech platform producers. Why is this?... In my humble opinion... it's because the technology does not understand group dynamics, and how to foster effective collaboration between human beings. In fact, I will go as far as saying, you can achieve great collaboration and productivity with quite crappy technology, when you know how to work with people in groups. Last week we ran another one of our virtual working sessions - a series of three interactive webinars for people who want to collaborate more effectively in dispersed groups. The group members came from different companies and different countries, and all reported similar troubles in virtual meetings: difficulty in managing engagement of diverse groups; trouble converging on robust decisions; struggling to resolve conflicts and differences of opinion in these spaces; not to mention all the technical difficulties with varied broadband capabilities, and audio problems.

So, what's the answer?...

A key step, when a group decide to come together, is to get really clear on what level of collaboration is needed, and therefore how much trust is needed in the group. For example if a group come together to just share ideas, and don't need to converge on decisions together, then lower levels of trust are fine for this quality of work, and therefore it is possible to get away with less attention to group development. However, if a group are going to be involved in making strategic decisions and driving action, then higher levels of trust are needed, and more attention needs to be invested in getting the group through the stages of group development, so that they can collaborate effectively. If a group are going to be involved in effecting change, then real attention needs to be given to developing high performance in the group, otherwise their group dynamic is likely to prevent them being able to effect any shifts in the organisation.

What is group development?

There are many models for group development. Probably the most well-known in the business world is the Tuckman model - Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. However, regardless of the theoretical lens you use to look at a group, at the heart is a focus on the human system, in service of the results they need to achieve. In organisations these days groups of people are often thrown together and expected to collaborate, as if the magic of the whole becoming greater than the sum of the parts will happen automatically. The downside I see of the virtual space is that it seems to focus attention on the work flow, without considering the human flow, and this means that many groups are not getting the results they could when working remotely.

Supporting group development - start with small things?

Considering the human dynamic in any work done in groups is important and small things can make a big difference. For example, whenever I work with a group I will take time to check-in and check-out of the work. This doesn't need to take long - in our team calls each week we just go around each person asking for one thing that 'sucks' and one thing that 'rocks' ; yesterday we did a check-in and check-out that involved each person sharing one word about how they were feeling. For many groups this can feel counter-cultural at the start, but the huge benefit of check-ins is that they give a sense of how each person is before launching into the work. Check-outs help us understand what people are taking away from a session, rather than assuming. We are all human, not robots, and therefore the things happening within the context of our lives affect how we think and feel about things. Being transparent about what is going on for us is the first step towards building trust and respect in a group, and is particularly important in virtual working where we don't have some of the visual cues about what might be going on. So, next time you connect in a virtual meeting, take time to consider the humans on the other side of the screens. What could you be doing to foster greater trust and inclusion in the way you work?
27October 2016
blog_shape

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 change, and what this might mean in an organisational context. So, I then went on to speak to my Father. My Father was an Anaesthetist who specialised in pain relief. He came from Colombo, in Sri Lanka to train in Western medicine at UCL in London, and went on to integrate acupuncture into his treatment of Chronic Pain. After a brief conversation about acupuncture, here is what he summarised in a letter to me… The practice of stimulating pressure points in the body, in order to induce relief from bodily ailments stems from Biblical times and beyond. It embodies a holistic approach towards the treatment of Human Disorders. Some of its characteristic features are, that it is relatively non-invasive to the body, it is almost free of any side-effects, and last but not least, it is inexpensive. About 33% of patients attending the Chronic Pain Management Clinic would feel almost cured after treatment with Acupuncture and another 33% would experience worthwhile relief from their symptoms. Patient selection for treatment is important, as with all forms of Clinical Therapy. Love, Pops As I read his notes I became more and more excited about the parallels between my Father’s work and my own. Maybe his work in relieving people of pain wasn’t so different from my approach to change in organisations! This was my train of thought…

Metaphors for organisations and the underlying assumptions about change

The need for perpetual, sustainable change in organisations is becoming more apparent than ever. If we consider the old paradigm of change in organisations, it stems from the underlying metaphor of an organisation as a machine. The puts focus on the intellectual challenge of fixing what is ‘broken’
  • A machine needs external intervention to tweak or change – it cannot change itself
  • For an entire machine to change, the external intervention needed to be ‘all over’ the machine
  • As change occurs parts are discarded to the scrap heap.
I think of organisations as big groups of people – living human systems. When we focus on organisations as living systems it shifts the focus onto stimulating and nurturing change from within. Living systems change in different ways
  • They are capable of self-change – often triggered by subtle external shifts
  • Change can be organic or metamorphic – either way the DNA of the organism remains the same
  • When living systems change there is little or no waste as energy transfers from one form to another

The application of acupuncture to human systems

If we then apply my Father’s thoughts on acupuncture to organisations, then we need to take a holistic approach to the whole human system and identify the pressure points to induce change. If external interventions are needed then the needles need to be sharp and skilfully applied to effect the ripples of change that flow from the pressure point. Most importantly, I take note of my Father’s last point. ‘Patient selection for treatment is important.’ Unlike in high intervention medicine, where the patient is anaesthetised, in acupuncture the patient is awake and alert. Organisational acupuncture only works when the leaders of the organisation want to change and are willing to commit to some discomfort in themselves as they become the change they want to see in others.
27October 2016
blog_shape
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 of multiple perspectives will take place. Having spent 17 years facilitating group planning, here are some of my thoughts and ideas for those heading into the year end planning cycle.

Who and how to involve

It might sound obvious but getting the right people involved and being intentional about how we want to collaborate is key. Collaborative working doesn't necessarily mean consensual decision making with everyone involved. Sometimes it is best to pick a small team to co-create a plan with. Sometimes we consult with a wider audience as input to planning or we can test draft plans with a wider group after a small group has done some work. Alternatively, getting a large group together to do the whole thing in one go can be hugely effective, but be mindful this requires large group facilitation expertise. So, I find it helps to map out all the stakeholders and then look at them individually and think about how you want to engage with them. A kind of plan for how to plan!!

Hindsight

The pace that most businesses are moving at, combined with the pressure on many leaders and managers means that little time is made for reflection and learning in the workplace these days. The tendency is to do a cursory glance at the results from last year, before drawing conclusions and moving into future planning. This often leads to repeating patterns in businesses, which never get resolved. So, I would encourage anyone doing planning to make time to really explore the facts and data of what has happened, then look at how things happened and the different experiences of that, as a source of rich learning and hindsight that can dramatically inform future plans.

Insight

Insight is the bridge between the past and the future. Profound insight is rooted in data, but in the age of BIG DATA, we need to be choiceful about which data we pay attention to and how that is converted onto information, before knowledge and then wisdom can be formed. Insight development also benefits from using different modes of knowing. Most senior teams have a preference for the logical cognitive space, and leaders are usually highly developed in their thinking skills. But how often do we really leverage the amazing right brain capability of human beings. Our right hemisphere enables us to sense and notice patterns to bring insight that analysis of facts and figures can't.

Foresight

Oh to have a crystal ball ! I know we are called Meeting Magic, but unfortunately my magical powers do not extend to being able to give groups 'Mystic Meg - like' qualities. So, instead we have to develop strategies that are rooted in foresight - this means extrapolating from insight into what might be. This work REALLY benefits from right brain work. By this I don't mean lying on bean bags coming up with crazy ideas, I mean creating an environment in which 'right answers' are not the goal, a more exploratory creative way of thinking... wondering why things are the way they are now, and what that means for how things might be. The art of great planning is to create a plan that is sufficiently grounded in reality that people can see it will work, and yet it has sufficient stretch that it creates a slight tension. The pulling together of plans which build on hindsight, anchor to insight and stretch into foresight is key. Then we need to think about how we sense and respond throughout the forthcoming year, so that we notice if those insights change and the strategies need to change with them. This approach is the art of agile planning - planning for the unplannable - knowing and working with the fact that we live in a changing world - behaving like an organic, living system, rather than a machine. So, I hope you find this useful thought provocation to enable you to think about howyou go about planning this year. Just remember, like any good cook, it's not just about having the right ingredients, it's also about how you combine them that determines whether your meal is a delight or a disaster!
18July 2016
blog_shape
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 challenge The University of Brighton may trace its history back to 1859, but its style of governance and the scope of its ambition for students and faculty is notably forward-looking. The institution serves 20,700 students across five campuses and  is a major university for the professions.  UniBrighton’s strategic leadership called us in to help drive a new approach to developing their future strategy: they wanted the initiative to be broad, inclusive and engaging, to harvest and build upon a wide and representative selection of ideas and suggestions. Our approach
  • Five 2½ hour meetings at each campus, supported by a website and informal drop-in sessions.
  • Journey-through-time meeting design, highlighting the assembled experience in the room by creating a physical circle of participants ordered by their length of employment at the university.
  • Creation of a large-display history map drawing on the wealth of experience in the room, supported by live graphic recording.
  • Graphic representation of influences impacting the university now and in the future, to spark off ideas for the future from each group. We used a large-display mind-map format to graphic record inputs.
  • Summaries of ideas generated at each meeting, in spreadsheet form, to make it easy for the strategic teams to assimilate quickly.
 Our results The meetings were attended by around 400 staff from all campuses, across the professorial, administrative and support dimensions. The concentrated ideas and insights will be used to create a strategy for UniBrighton. uobmetrics Our learning The physicality and psychology of people arranging themselves in order of their length of service was fascinating!
  • It wasn’t a pecking order – fresh thinking came from all parts
  • Passion isn’t based on length of service.
An awful lot can be achieved involving a lot of people in a very short space of time! What people said mm2
16July 2016
blog_shape

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 Roan, who have made this way of working accessible to business people. The downside I see in the appeal of visual working, is that visuals are often used without understanding the implications of the choices being made so. To the untrained eye, it’s all about pretty pictures. There are three dimensions to working visually
  • The process by which the image is created
  • The underlying metaphor and architecture of the image
  • The way in which the image is used, once it is created
Within each of these dimensions there are multiple choices, which means there is a broad range of different results that can be achieved by combining them. In this article I hope to shine a light on the first dimension, by looking at the different ways graphic images are created and the impact this has. I have summarised this into four discrete areas, yet the reality is that within each field there is a variety of application. For example within graphic recording: some recorders work privately, on sketchbooks; some work publically on large charts; some work completely real time; some do the outline real time and complete in the studio; some work in colour; some in black and white. These variations in each area mean it is more of a spectrum than four clear choices, but I hope this segmentation starts to shine a light on the options available.  
What is it Impact on group Pros / cons
Illustration Illustrators help people communicate more effectively through their skill in developing images that support verbal or written words. This is usually done in a studio, not live with a group. By communicating through pictures and words, people tend to be able to take in and remember information better. ✓ pictures bring things to life × the pictures are developed by the illustrator and therefore not ‘owned’ by the group.
Graphic recording Graphic Recorders help groups see the conversations they are having through their expertise in listening, visualising and use of metaphor. The group can SEE the conversation being recorded all on one page. This acknowledges contributions and makes people feel heard. ✓ Captures attention ✓ Supports group memory ✓ Useful summary × Often added as an afterthought, late in the preparation of meetings × not integrated into group process × Little group ownership
Graphic Facilitation Graphic Facilitators work with groups to help them achieve their outcomes through their combined expertise in group process and visual architectures. Conversations are are designed with a focus on group outcomes. The group can SEE their contributions being added to the charts. The group can make new connections as individuals see their perspectives alongside others. ✓ Focusses attention ✓ Supports trust and respect ✓ brings clarity ✓ supports group decision making ✓ strong ownership by the group × for full impact the visuals need to be planned as an integral part of the design - not added as an afterthought × the combination of facilitation skills and graphical skills are harder to come by  
Visual Organisatational Development Consultancy Visual OD practitioners work to improve an organisation’s performance through their expertise in human systems, system architectures.     Group work is designed within the context of organisational needs. The visuals help the group develop clarity in complex situations. The way the information is synthesised in this approach enables new insights and meaning to be drawn by the group. Same as above and… ✓ visual synthesis brings new insights aimed at business impact × very few people worldwide can do this
  In the complex, fast paced, global world we live in, I believe that visual working has huge potential power. The key to unlocking this power comes from consciously and intentionally choosing the right visual tools for the right jobs. I hope this article has shed some light on this field. In the mean time, if you are interested in finding out more about this area of work, get in touch.  
03April 2016
blog_shape
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.
15March 2016
blog_shape
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 quotas for the number of women on the Board, I would like to offer my personal views on a philosophy of diversity that  goes deeper than that. (more…)
09March 2016
blog_shape
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. (more…)
07March 2016
blog_shape
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. (more…)
17February 2016
blog_shape
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 Bruce Springsteen, Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela in her own mashup of their life experiences, poetry, storytelling and empowered thinking. Have a watch and listen as Liz tells us about these powerful people and others who continue to shape her thinking. Give Liz Forder a call to share your own passions and what drives you, and maybe sing a Springsteen song together, at +44 (0)1628 471 114. Or let Liz know what you are thinking about, or your meeting needs, in the contact form. She'll get back to you as quickly as she can.
15February 2016
blog_shape
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. She believe strongly that 'one small step could be the biggest thing you ever do.' Listen and watch Fiona talk about those who have influenced her passion for working with people. To talk to Fiona Stratford about your passions and influencers give her a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114. Or send the contact form and we'll make sure Fiona gets your thoughts on your upcoming meetings or your influencers or how to empower personal growth, even in meetings.
10February 2016
blog_shape
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 breaking through hierarchies. In particular, one of her great influencers has been Margaret Mead whose own belief that small, thoughtful groups can change the world remains a bedrock on which to build client conversations. Listen and watch Kenda enthuse about those who have influenced her, both personal and professional. To speak with Kenda, and explore more of her current thinking about the power of meeting, give her a call at +44 90)6128 471 114. Or, complete the contact form adding some of your own thoughts about your meeting needs.
03February 2016
blog_shape
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 in a way that helps you collaborate better. Call her at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form telling us what you want Fiona to help you with. She'll get back to you quickly.
01February 2016
blog_shape
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 to meetings. To speak with Liz give her a call at +44 (0)1628 147 114 or complete our contact form with information for Liz to reply to. She'll get back to you as quickly as she can.
25January 2016
blog_shape
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. Others can be found in her bio page. If you'd like to talk to Katherine about your organisational needs or your one-off meetings give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or send an enquiry form requesting a chat. We'll get back to you as fast as we can.
18January 2016
blog_shape
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, graphic meeting facilitation and how meetings impact organisations. Watch our new overview video then give us some thoughts on what you hear. We facilitate meetings to get to the purpose, outcomes and outputs that move your organisation forward. How we work with you is to explore your desired outcomes, clarify why you are having this meeting, agreeing an agenda, then delivering to plan. We enjoy meeting. We support meeting to get results.  Call us on +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete our enquiry form so we can get this conversation going.
30November 2015
blog_shape
All sorts of holidays are celebrated in December and early January. We wish you a wonderful and relaxing holiday season. Celebrate well, in good spirits, and with safety. It has become a tradition for Meeting Magic and Scribing Magic to offer a visual gift during this season of sharing. Our gift this year is a template you can use for personal reflection to gain some insights into 2015, uncovering what you have learned, and then think about how to take your learning into 2016, which may be in the form of ideas, questions or specific tasks you want to achieve. (more…)
25November 2015
blog_shape

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 as both customer and supplier. Organisations place a big emphasis on the management of suppliers of raw goods and products. There is a clear link between these tangible suppliers and a company’s ability to deliver. However, I think there is a lot more ambiguity in the area of services buying and I see the need to shift, as organisations evolve into new ways of working. (more…)
23November 2015
blog_shape
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. It features research on Evolutionary Teal organisations, which is the last stage in his thinking. The earlier stages are given colours, too. A visual representation of the model can be found here. (more…)
20November 2015
blog_shape
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. (more…)
17November 2015
blog_shape
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. (more…)
A visual summary of Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux.
17November 2015
blog_shape
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. Katherine Woods, our CEO and Managing Director, and Kenda Gaynham, our Senior Facilitator and Trainer, have laid out a very clear strategy for creating change one meeting at a time. Meetings are where work happens. Well-facilitated meetings, using graphic facilitation, visual thinking, and strong meeting process, are where change can best be managed. This perspective is one of the options Meeting Magic brings to you organisations. We work with leaders, managers and teams to explore the current context in which they work, consider what has worked or not worked in the past, and enliven a future vision of themselves and their success. We would be delighted to talk with you about your meetings, whether you want organisational change or not, to explore your thinking about how to make your meetings better. Changing meetings can change organisational thinking. We know this from over 16 years of experience. Let's get a conversation going and see how we can support you. Call us at +44 (0)20 1628 4711. Or, complete our contact form giving us a few details about what you want to explore. We'll set up a chat and go from there.
Virtual meeting facilitation in progress
17November 2015
blog_shape
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 of what they had achieved. (more…)
04November 2015
blog_shape
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 increase in employee mental health problems. This is from the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK) Absence measurement and management report that was produced in conjunction with Simplyhealth. It also makes me feel pretty angry, too, as I believe it fundamentally comes down to how we treat one another in the workplace. On the bright side it also means that we can do something about it. If we choose to. (more…)
30October 2015
blog_shape
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 / participants an opportunity to add or correct the historical record, helping cement the content in participants minds while helping them engage it in a profound way. I was struck by how many times people refer to the visual as a memory tool and how they were pleased to amend the record. This video is a little long but it is very instructive demonstration of how good graphic recording can support the facilitation process, and support shared communications. Meeting Magic and Scribing Magic support your capture of conversations, presentations, and panel discussions so the content becomes an historical record, and can be used to communicate your messages to other stakeholders, including those missing from the meeting, related groups and divisions, leaders and investors, and clients / customers. To learn more about how and why graphic recording and graphic facilitation works give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form telling us what you want to achieve in our groups. We'll get back to you as soon as we can.
26October 2015
blog_shape
The dates for our Advanced Facilitation Training has changed to the 14th and 15th of January. Take a look at our webpage to learn more or please give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or send us the contact form and let us know your questions and concerns.
26October 2015
blog_shape

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 detail, let's take a look at what we have found.... (more…)

23October 2015
blog_shape
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. (more…)
Team meeting around the meeting table
12October 2015
blog_shape
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 that happens automatically. The best teams work incredibly hard at being great as a team. (more…)
10October 2015
blog_shape
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: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED Books/Simon & Schuster, 2015). Then let us know how we can support your teams. We can explore the theories of teams and how to implement stages of development that lead to Heffernan's success. We know teams and how to create high-performing results. Call us at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form to learn how addressing your team issues can move you to greatness.
26September 2015
blog_shape
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 action. We target your training needs. Have a look at the offers we have posted on our site then give us a call to discuss what we can do to energize your company or your team. Serious work gets done in meetings, we help energize your meetings and we can help you do that, too. +44 (0)20 1628 471 114 or complete the contact form to tell us what training ideas you'd like to explore.
22September 2015
blog_shape
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? (more…)
17September 2015
blog_shape
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 a discussion on this topic at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form and tell us what you are thinking about. We'll get back to you as quickly as we can.
07September 2015
blog_shape
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 last 16 years, generally noticing that facilitation is much more widely applied in business today than it was back then. From my perspective this is a positive trend, as it is indicative of the appreciation of how collaborative working can deliver great business results. However, there is a negative side to this, which is that as people are exposed to facilitation more they see the benefits and think they can do it. Personally I think this is bonkers, which you will see below. This desire to 'give it a go' is partly due to people's hunger for good meetings, partly a desire to do good by the group or the organisation, but perhaps mostly attributable to a lack of awareness about what it takes to be an effective facilitator.

Maybe you can drive my car

I learnt to drive when I was 17 (yes, a very distant memory!). Up to this point in my life I had a great deal of experience of being driven, by my parents, by friend’s parents, in the school bus, etc. However, at no point did anyone suggest I might just get in a car and give it a go, without some expert supervision. Let alone would they have suggested that I drive other people. When I started to learn to drive, with the support of a driving instructor, I became very aware of some things that I had been unaware of when I was being driven. For example, I had to consciously remember to ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’. By the time I passed my driving test, I had practiced driving enough times that I could drive safely, but I was still very conscious of what I needed to remember each time I got in a car. I had to be aware to 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre'. After a decade of driving I could drive safely without having to over think it. The ‘mirror, signal, manoeuvre’ mantra came to me like second nature. Anyone who was a passenger in my car would not have necessarily noticed what I was doing. Even so, I would not have considered myself a Lewis Hamilton, currently the #1 Formula One driver in the world. If I had wanted to take my driving to another level I would have needed to substantially develop my driving skills before launching onto the track! So, bear with me. Becoming a highly competent meeting facilitator is like becoming a highly competent driver. You wouldn’t launch yourself or your colleagues onto a track to compete with Hamilton without a great deal of training. So, here are the points I am making with relation to facilitation:
  • Good facilitation is invisible to the untrained eye but is felt in the smoothness of the experience – much like driving with a competent driver.
  • It takes expert support to develop facilitation capability – whether that’s training, coaching, or co-facilitation with an expert facilitator.
  • To reach an expert level in facilitation takes years of practice and ongoing development to achieve the capability needed to use innovative tools, without endangering the group.
And that last phrase is really the point. Facilitators who are untrained can endanger the success of the group. They can influence groups to their own thinking. They can actually move groups to poor decisions and not gain critical alignment, agreement and commitment. And, in the case of tension or conflict, can mishandle situations that have the potential for lasting damage for individuals and the group.

Have a test drive but learn your limitations

So, by all means, I would encourage anyone wanting to have a go at facilitating to jump in and test your skills and comfort. And it is important to recognise where you are on your journey and to understand that, without external intervention, we all have blind spots! Training, coaching and expert assistance is vitally important in learning to drive. Learning to facilitate well is equally important. The facilitators journey is one of acknowledging limitations and gaining insights into how to 'drive that car'.
An inspiring and creative approach to optimizing the outcome of every meeting.
Meeting Magic has decades of experience in supporting the development of facilitation capability for managers, leaders, project managers, change agents, and consultants in all sectors and in all levels of businesses. We know how to train people in a pragmatic way that enables application at whatever your level, whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. We can support your development through coaching, training, co-facilitating, modelling best practices and presentations about the impact facilitation can have.
An invaluable tool to help you succeed in business, whether as a formal facilitator or someone who wants to get things done properly.
Our next advanced facilitation open training course is the 11th and 12th of November. We offer in-house, bespoke/custom training in facilitative leadership, team development, taking vision to action, and virtual meeting facilitation. Give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 to chat about which workshop works for developing your driving skills or might support your group's learning. If you complete the contact form, telling us about your learning goals, we will get back to you as quickly as we can.
A fantastic set of inspirational facilitators and trainers who bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to deliver a truly great course.
02September 2015
blog_shape
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 is one of the several books we use in our own training workshops. Here is a sneak peek at our new video introduction to the Method. You can purchase the Meeting Magic Method direct from our webpages. (Scroll down a little bit to find the link for the Method.) To learn more about the Meeting Magic Method, how to engage your thinking using visual tools, and how to improve your meetings give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete the contact form and we'll get back to you as quickly as we can. We support, encourage and coach you to successful meetings.
31August 2015
blog_shape
We are unveiling a new bio video for Katherine Woods. This is your first view. It will be posted on the website soon. Have a look and listen to learn more about Katherine. Learn about her passions and watch her explain some of her thinking about Meeting Magic and our client relationships. If you want to schedule a conversation with Katherine, or anyone on our team, give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114 or complete our contact form telling us a little about the topics you want to explore.
26August 2015
blog_shape
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.
  • Collaborative Leadership: supporting management and directors who understand that harnessing group working creates a stronger, more focused organisation with rewards for all stakeholders.
  • Vision to Action: our unique formats for creating vision and understanding how to take the vision off the shelf and into committed action.
  • Team Performance: an in-depth exploration of how to sustain trust, commitment and momentum in groups of all types and in all sectors of an organisation.
While the AFT is offered as open, public training (with our next dates of 11-12 November), these new titles are offered in-house so that we can explore the topics within the context of your organisation, applying real-life issues and questions in a non-threatening environment. For more information on each of our training offers give us a call at +44 (0)20 1628 471 114 or complete the contact form telling us the training options you want to explore. We love training. Give us a call.
27July 2015
blog_shape
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 know why meeting works. We support meeting as a strategy not a 'must do.' (more…)
17July 2015
blog_shape
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 is a critical topic. Come join the conversation at the Chamber meeting. Click here for more information and to register. If you want to discuss how to collaborate creatively in your meetings and organisations give us a call at +44 (0)1628 471 114. Or, tell us about your corporate meeting culture in our contact form and we'll get in touch to have this critical conversation.
17July 2015
blog_shape
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 about the event and to register. If we can help you disrupt your decision making and support you with graphic facilitation in your meeting culture give us a call at +44 (0)20 1628 471 114 or complete the contact form and let us know how disruptive you want to be. We look forward to the conversation.
14July 2015
blog_shape
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 than 60 countries worldwide, and in June 2015 their radio host Chris Cooper, whose widely listened-to Be More, Achieve More talk show provides inspiration to thousands of high-achieving  businesspeople and entrepreneurs, interviewed Meeting Magic CEO Katherine Woods. On the agenda: meetings, of course, with all their opportunities and pitfalls, and some insights into what led Katherine Woods to create one of the most successful and longest-running meeting facilitation businesses in the world. (more…)
13July 2015
blog_shape
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? (more…)
03July 2015
blog_shape
Consultancy Article Image 2 - Time Spent2 - 18-6-15 - KGWe 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 buck. And yet, your conferences engender more dread than excitement. More quiet whinging than positive buzz. What is that about? (more…)
01July 2015
blog_shape
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.
30June 2015
blog_shape
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 live in real time to produce visual records that act as aide memoirs for participants and a way of understanding what happened for those that were unable to attend. (more…)
24June 2015
blog_shape
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. (more…)
22June 2015
blog_shape
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. (more…)