Top 10 Tips for Agile Meetings
Agile Portfolio of Meetings
Think of your portfolio meetings as the gearbox in the transmission system of your business vehicle. We need the right cogs, being kept well oiled, individually turning over well and meshing well with each other to work as a whole, with smaller cogs turning over with higher frequency and larger cogs turning over with lower frequency.
Tip #3: Continually Improve Your Meetings Matrix & Annual Calendar to learn as you go, seek feedback from participants on what's working well and not working well, making design adjustments and seeing how they work.
Version 1 of your meetings matrix and annual calendar may not run as a well-oiled machine, but later versions can.
- "I have realized that a core part of my role as a CEO is meetings. Establishing, running and improving the right portfolio of meetings to make sure that we are proactively driving the right conversations, decisions and actions on the array of things we have to get right. With some regret, I wish I had realized this earlier in my career"
- "Game-changer! Initially I was very skeptical about morning meetings - too expensive I thought - we can't afford the overhead of taking 30 minutes of the senior management's time every day. But now, only a few weeks later, I don't want to start my day without it! The opportunity to check in with everything going on helps me immerse myself in what my focus needs to be for the rest of the day, confident that everyone else is doing the same, that no news is good news and that we can re-synchronize again tomorrow morning. I also don't stress if I have to miss a meeting as I know I will be right back up to speed in the next one. Morning meetings have been a game-changer for us: in my opinion, we can't afford not to have them".
- "Amazing! Adopting morning meetings has had an enormous impact on our agility as an organization. We have revved up our communication, coordination and collaboration as a team and, as a result, I get half the e-mails I used to get and have half the ad-hoc meetings I used to have. We are getting much more done in much less time with much less chaos".
- "Awesome! We are completing critical initiatives in 6 weeks which in the past would have taken 6 months, by sustaining a sense of urgency, focus and momentum".
- "The fires have gone! We aren't firefighting all the time like we used to. With our morning meeting we have installed a sprinkler system which kicks in and puts them out before they spread".
- "Epiphany! I realize I spend my day walking around the business having the morning meeting that I didn't have!"
Start a Chaos Journal.
Agile Flow of Individual Meetings
Each individual meeting needs to be agile and traction creating.
Agile Facilitation Skills
Tip #9: Generate, Extend and Expand Input. Generate input by asking everyone to "take a quiet minute to write something down and then we will go around the table", or break them into pairs/triads, "to discuss and be ready to report out". These approaches set the expectation that we will hear from everyone. Extend the input by saying "tell us more" or asking, "what-else?", "how-so?", "how does that fit with ...?". Expand input by asking "what are our other options?", "what are we not thinking about?" and "what are we missing?"
Tip #10: Get Fast Consensus to Fast/Good Decisions. We don't have the luxury of slow/perfect decisions these days. In any case, they typically turn into slow/bureaucratic decisions (we have meeting after meeting after meeting on the same issue!) and then slow/bad decisions (made by committee!). We shouldn't be making fast/reckless decisions either, with insufficient dialog. The right answer is somewhere in between, fast/good decisions through fast consensus. After facilitating a focused dialog with an appropriate sense of urgency and time criticality, it's a leader's job to make a judgment call about when to move for fast-consensus on a fast/good decision. Say something like, "it seems like we have all the options on the table and, having listed to the dialog, on balance I am leaning towards option .......", "does anyone have any violent objection towards that", and, "can everyone get behind that?". If so, then move the dialog into one of implementation, "so, how would we best do that?".