seprator

meeting culture

seprator
12December 2016
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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.
26September 2015
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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.
26August 2015
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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.
11June 2015
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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." (more…)

19March 2015
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 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 different sectors that I've concluded that there is a universal business issue: meetings often don't mean enough for businesses to invest in them. (more…)

19March 2015
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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. (more…)
22January 2015
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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. (more…)
27October 2014
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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 to decisions? (more…)
23October 2014
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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 between the artists that’s compelling, and the music speaks for itself. It was amazing! That night the artists were four acoustic guitar players and singers. One of them talked about the ratio of songs he had written versus those that had been published. He said that, in a good year, he will write about 100 songs, and if 5 get published, that’s good. So, only 5% of his work generates revenue. He joked that no one should become a songwriter for the money! (more…)
08July 2014
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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. (more…)
30June 2014
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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 productivity of most meetings in large organisations is appalling. (more…)
10June 2014
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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, we can help organisations get the most from their people in meetings and prevent a lot of lost productivity.
31March 2014
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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 staff can persuade senior members of staff that their ideas are sound and worthy of execution. This persuasion-style meeting culture results in endless meetings, like beauty parades, with presentation after presentation. Apart from the fact that most human beings cannot effectively assimilate the vast volumes of information being presented in this kind of meeting, which leads to poor decision making, they are also really dull!!! The alternative is a meeting culture focussed on making robust decisions. In this environment, there is clarity of decision making process and meetings are focussed on making decisions where collaboration is required. Collaborative decision making is most effective in complex situations where multiple dimensions need to be considered. In this type of meeting the key is to have the right people in the room, so ensure that nothing is being missed, and emphasis is on the group making the decision. The upside of the robust decision making culture, is people only attend meetings where their views really count, and they feel valued in these meetings because they are engaged and involved. It seems bonkers that so many large organisations fall into the persuasion meeting culture - it's not helpful to the bottom line or staff morale.
10February 2014
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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, that this enables people to be the best they can be. (more…)
22November 2013
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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 day I have achieved nothing, because I have been in meetings. I end up working in the evenings to complete the actions I got in the meetings.' (more…)
14June 2013
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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 in. (more…)
14February 2013
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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 working outside 'office hours'. The downside of this can be feeling like you are working 24hrs a day! (more…)
22November 2012
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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'
(more…)
15June 2012
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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… (more…)
30May 2012
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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. (more…)
28May 2012
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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 need high trust levels, there will always be the need for face to face working. (more…)
09January 2012
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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 discretionary effort that is needed for businesses to survive and thrive in a tough economic climate. (more…)
15December 2011
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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.... (more…)
30January 2009
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It seems that many of the clients I am working with at the moment are saying they need to be doing more with less. (more…)
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