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 It's not 'drawing'...

It's 
VISUAL

SENSEMAKING

with Lynne Cazaly
using The Visual Mojo Method
 
1 day practical workshop for your team
Build this powerful, influential skill to help make sense of change, communicate clearly and engage people in the most challenging situations
  

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MELBOURNE - March 29

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or... contact Lynne to arrange a workshop at your workplace 

 
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    Tuesday
    Jan292019

    Could you 'Marie Kondo' (Kon Mari) your meetings? 

     

    The runaway success of the sparkling, joyous, tidying queen Marie Kondo via her book ’The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' and now the success of the Netflix program ’Tidying Up with Marie Kondo' is giving plenty of people lots of joy in tidying up their homes using her Kon Mari method. 

    Some people have suggested we can do the same in tidying up our mindsets, our diets and our relationships. 

    And how about at work? Don’t just tidy up the kitchen, stationery cupboard or the print room. Could you Marie Kondo all those wretched meetings!? 

    Why not? 

    Instead of gathering up all of your clothes or books into piles, why not do it with all those meetings in your diary? 

    No wonder plenty of us are feeling overwhelmed with the ’stuff’ of meetings: invites, acceptances, locations, agendas, calls for agenda items, minutes, meeting notes, follow up actions, follow up meetings to follow up on the actions, another meeting to follow up on the minutes of the actions of the first meeting’s follow ups. Meh!

    And let’s face it, what meeting have you been in recently (or ever) that sparked joy… or even gave you a little hint of delight or a whimper of laughter? 

    Meeting culture is broken in most organisations. Most meetings are dysfunctional, dated and ineffective. A little like most of the stuff people are throwing out from their home. It’s junk. This is all the more reason to find out what all those meetings are for and whether they serve you or the organisation any more. Time to tidy up. Time is way too precious. 

     

    How might you?

    So how might Marie Kondo your meetings? Here are some thoughts: 

    1. Alone or together. You could do your own meeting audit and tidying up. List out every meeting you go to - particularly those recurring ones that are automatically slotted into your diary - think Steering Committees, Status Updates and anything else update-ish or information sharing. Or you could do this with others; get the team together and gather up all the names of the meetings you’re all supposed to go to. 
    2. Tally it up. Work out the number of meetings and the time commitment these things are draining from your life. Just as Marie Kondo wants us to be shocked by the amount of stuff we own - hence the pile-it-up method - give yourself a rude awakening at just how much time you spend in the organisation's meetings and workshops. 
    3. Do the math. What does this leave you with? How much actual working-at-your-desk-thinking-and-working time do you have left? Is this enough? What’s enough anyway? Get shocked about this. This is the catalyst to change. 
    4. Ask questions. Contact meeting organisers and ask them things like: ‘What is this meeting about? What’s the charter of this group and its meetings? Why do I need to be there? What do you expect?’ When we don’t know this information we can tend to not care, not show up or not say anything. That’s not good for culture or career. Take responsibility to find out why your time is being requested. And if you’re the convener or facilitator, make it your mission to be really clear with people about why this meeting, why them and what’s the reason for it. 
    5. Decide and ditch. Which meetings can go, now? Which ones can be deleted once you’re clear on the answers to #4? Which can have some of their content sorted in other ways or at other meetings (but don’t make the meeting any longer)? And which meetings are must-dos or must attends? Be ruthless and throw stuff out. 
    6. Rationalise first. Rather than fixing all meetings, rationalise first, then fix those that are worthy of saving and keeping. 

     

    Fixing the culture of the meeting

    When there are meetings that you know need to be held or you need to be there - to lead them and facilitate them or to attend them - now it's time to ‘fix’ them. Don’t try and fix every meeting without first tidying. Otherwise it’s like going out and buying storage boxes for all the crap you have when Marie Kondo clearly says we need to reduce first, then store. 

    I see there are four ways to fix meetings that go beyond the lightweight ‘how to run better meetings’ articles out there. 

    Make your meetings fewer, shorter, better, easier 

    1. Fewer. The number of meetings you’re having can change. You’ve rationalised - hopefully via a Marie Kondo tidy up. This is also about the frequency for repeating meetings and the initial decision that a meeting is even required. Phone hookups, online chat, messaging and groups on an app can help get sh*t done rather than sending an agenda and booking a room. 
    2. Shorter. Make some meetings shorter. Some meetings can absolutely take less time. With focus, clarity about the agenda and good facilitation, it can be done. Not all meetings but try some and see. Donna McGeorge’s book ‘The 25 Minute Meeting’ can help you do this. 
    3. Better. What are your meetings actually achieving - what’s the impact or the output of them? Do you know? Most people judge the success of a meeting by what it achieved, the outcomes and results. Meetings will remain as time-wasting talk-fests unless you change something fairly significant about them. Tinkering around the edges doesn’t usually change much culturally in the longer term. 
    4. Easier. We make things harder than they need to be. And sometimes we’re unaware we’re doing that. The way the meeting is run needs to be easier, more pleasant to experience (is that near some joy perhaps?) How easy is it to get work done, make decisions, collaborate, share, design, think, debate…? How a meeting ‘feels’ and how it goes are about making the thing easier. A meeting leader with some effective (not cliched) facilitation skills can make that happen. This is what the Leader as Facilitatorconcept is all about. After all, facilitation means ‘ease’. 

     

    Then keep it tidy

    Just like any transformation, the work is in the habit or the ongoing activity. 

    Don’t just accept meeting invites; ask questions of the organiser or convener. Speak up. Find out why this meeting, why you and what are they expecting to get done in this time-taking activity. 

    Not every meeting type needs to live on forever. Many meetings serve their purpose but they keep being run over a period of months and years. No more. Regularly review and get rid of those that don’t serve, or the situation has changed or the project has ended. 

    One in, one out. And if you’re going to bring a new meeting in, get rid of one. We simply can’t keep meeting the way we are and expecting to add to the list AND be more productive about it. Buy a new pair of shoes? Then get rid of a pair to keep it manageable. 

     

    Take back control of your time and where it’s being spent; particularly at the request of other people and the meetings they’re calling. Apply some gentle pressure to find out why this meeting and why do I need to be there. When you’re able to get more of the things done that matter, yes, that does spark some joy!

    Wednesday
    Jan022019

    That New Year 'stink' of perfectionism and expectations

    If you’re reflecting and resetting goals with a new year upon you and then reading all those posts about needing to make things measurable and achievable and to do this and that, please… hang on a moment. It’s being reported more frequently in those 'new year/new you' types of articles and stories that many of us don’t quite hit or stick with the resolutions as we’d like to. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt a reset or a new way of thinking, living or working. 

    But can you smell it? Lots of things stink of perfectionism and expectations at this time of year. 

    Perfectionism isn’t a one size fits all; there are different types of perfectionism, but the one that I see running rampant at this time of year with resolutions and drives for new habits and resetting on our hopes and dreams, is what’s known as ‘socially prescribed perfectionism’. 

    Hey, don’t get me wrong. I want to change my life too; get fitter, eat better, live better, etc. We can all have aspirations and goals and the start of a new year is a great time to do that. 

    But my point is, perfectionism is poison. I’ve been researching it over the past year or so as I’ve been writing the book ‘ish: The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough’.

    The book tackles the problems we face when we chase the elusive ‘perfect’ - whether we’re preparing a report or presentation at work, making something or working on any of our projects in life, including ourself. Excellence, quality and continuous improvement are important. But the pursuit of perfection …not so much.

    Our drive to make things (including ourselves) look, feel or seem perfect is dangerously on the rise and has dire consequences for how we feel about ourselves and how well we live, work and collaborate with others.

    New year’s resolutions included. 

    Perfectionism is on the rise

    So back to this socially prescribed perfectionism; it’s when we (usually, wrongly) believe or perceive that ‘other people’ hold high standards for us… and we will indeed struggle to achieve them. Who are these other people, anyway? And none of us can achieve perfection because it doesn’t exist!

    You see, of all the types of perfectionism, this is the one that's on the rise. Up 33% over the years between 1989 - 2016 when 41,000-ish people were studied. We are increasingly believing that others set or hold high standards and expectations for us that we need to achieve… or else. 

    The other types of perfectionism - where we hold high standards for ourselves (up 10%), and where we have high standards for others (up 16%) - are also both on the rise, but only at half the rate or less of this one, the socially prescribed perfectionism. 

    The research associated with the increases in perfectionism reveal that yes, the environment is more competitive. The environment we see and experience on social media, the job and career environment, the mainstream media, our local community, at school or university, at the beach, on the sports arena, on the road, in the air and at the holiday destination. It’s all more competitive. 

    Coupled with this, expectations are more unrealistic. Someone showing you their super-fit body, their multi-million dollar startup or their make-up free selfie sets an expectation that we too can achieve that if we’d only do the program, use the product or like and share the post. 

     

    Beware The Curse of Discernment

    Just remember that the Curse of Discernment is at play here too. This is the idea, the reality, the science - from Barry Schwartz’s ’The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less' - that as we have ‘contact with items of high quality’, we begin to suffer the ‘curse of discernment’. Lower quality things that used to be acceptable to us are no longer good enough. The base point keeps rising and ‘expectations and aspirations rise with it.’ Higher experiences are met with higher expectations and we want higher experiences which drive higher expectations. It’s an endless loop. Unless…

    Unless you be aware of it. 

     

    You ain't broken

    Just take every Instagram post, social media share and mainstream media article encouraging you to ‘live bolder’ and ‘be better’ and ‘change this’ or ‘become that’ with a splash of reality and science. 

    We’re being conned that we need to 'be better' or ‘get more' or to fix our broken selves. And it’s just not true. We are wonderful as we are; imperfectly human, changing, growing and living. 

    There are many other movements underway that are showing us how we can snap out of this push for more/better/perfect and go for things like slower living, detoxing, tidying, minimising, simplifying, switching off from technology and reconnecting with humans … and other trends and ways of living and working. There’s an awakening going on. Are you on to it or are you still on the drug of more, better, perfect at all costs? 

    There are many problems of going for perfect; we’d do better to care less and be a bit more ‘ish’ – ish means somewhat, more or less, to some extent - because it's a w-a-y more flexible, helpful and happier way to think and work.

    ish. Near enough is so often good enough on the things that don’t matter as much as we think they do. I think we need to care less about more, and care more about less. Across the board, in so many aspects of life. (Ok if you’re a surgeon, an engineer, a pilot, or manufacture anything, please continue to adhere to your increasing standards of quality.)

    But if you’re going to make this the year of anything, make it the year of ish; where you ease the pressure off yourself - and others - and stop buying in to the perceived pressure for perfect anything. Relax the expectations of how things have to be or what they need to look like, feel like and when it needs to be done by. Live a life more ish-ly. 

    Reference: Psychologists Paul Hewitt and Gordon Flett’s - The ‘Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale’ and research by Thomas Curran and Andrew Hill.

     

    Monday
    Dec032018

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work.

    1. A leader presented the team with a 'roadmap' of what was ahead. It was a spreadsheet table full of words.

    2. A manager discussed the need for a team member to 'step up' and showed them a page with specific details. It was boxes of text going across the page.

    3. A sales team leader presented at the annual conference and inspired the team to 'lift' their performance. They showed a list of dot points going down the screen.

    Our language -- and our work -- are rich in metaphors. If you're speaking in them, then why not show them? ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿฝ Show... a roadmap -- or at least a road! :-)

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Show a series of steps that rise, diagonally up the page.

    ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿพ Show information that lifts up from the current level of performance.

    Help people make sense of what you're saying and communicating by matching the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work. 

    Monday
    Dec032018

    Bad systems beat good people

     

    'A bad system will beat a good person every time' - so said W. Edwards Deming. 

    You've got some great people in your team, on your project, in that meeting, attending the workshop. You really have. Great people.  

    The thing is... the system - whatever system is at play in the project, meeting, workshop -often isn't working to support those great people. It may well be stifling them, stopping them, slowing them down or just slowly breaking their spirit, enthusiasm and sense that they can achieve something. 

    Let those great people give the great ideas, suggestions, hunches, hopes and insights they have. Create a system that leverages the people and doesn't limit them. 

    When you plan your next meeting, workshop, session, project, what systems will support the people to bring their greatness? That's the stuff to fix. Don't blame the people. Remedy the system or structure that's inhibiting them, hindering them or keeping them from doing their best. 

    Sunday
    Dec022018

    Break some patterns.

     

    When you next plan an all-staff meeting, a conference, workshop, strategy session or meeting ... break some patterns.

    The way it’s being done is dull. Starting at 9am; morning tea at 10.30am. Dull side decks from leaders trying to get ‘alignment’ and ‘buy-in’.

    It’s too much presentation, not enough conversation; all monologue, not enough dialogue.

    Darkened theatres and vanilla communications. We are done with it.

    Open the blinds! Ask some questions. Break the routines and expectations that you think are the ‘right way’ to do things.

    The people you serve - not the ‘resources’ or ‘numbers’ or ‘head count’ - the people will thank you for it.