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    Entries in communication (31)

    Monday
    Jun032019

    Minutes are meaningless

    We still use an archaic 18th Century practice of capturing ‘little notes’ or minutes in our meetings ... in our 21st Century workplaces made up of 21st Century people.

    It's crazy. We're still using 18th Century meeting procedures too!

    Tired old structures and systems that slow things down, put us to sleep and carve away at interest and engagement. Those old style meetings don’t make sense. And neither do the minutes from those meetings.

    It’s time to make a cultural change in how you make sense of information in meetings. Taking, making and sharing minutes is an utter waste of time, an activity bottleneck and a momentum killer. In meetings, don't just document decisions - the act of making sense involves more than this.

    Minutes are dead and distract us from the real work. (Ok unless you need them legally e.g. a board meeting or committee that votes or decides and minutes are evidence of that decision, yes fine have them then!) And here's to the poor souls who type them up to circulate them to people who will never read them. This week I'm posting on sensemaking.

    And minutes don't make sense!

    Monday
    Jun032019

    Lists are great for shopping. Not great for sensemaking.

    Lists are great for shopping. Not great for sensemaking.

    When you’re in a meeting, discussing, generating ideas and solutions, planning details of how things might work, you might write down some key points:

    * In a list.

    * Like this.

    * And this.

    * Another point like this.

    * And more like this.

    While it feels efficient capturing what’s happening - sequentially - it’s not so helpful for making sense, now or later. A vertical list of dot points is challenging to retain, build links in, find common themes or show relationships and connections.

    Ditch the list; make a map. You zoom out on Google Maps to see where you are: roads, suburbs and towns become visible. The ‘dots’ of towns are connected, not in a list but in a network.

    A network map is one of the foundation tools I use to help people build sensemaking skills. It shows relationships, connections, more detailed information. Lines can be different thicknesses; circles different sizes. This communicates something more than any list can. The quality of the map? It doesn't matter. It's that you made a map - that matters.

    Monday
    Jun032019

    Get the third point happening.

    'Get the third point happening,’ I said.

    'The third what?,’ they asked.

    'The third point of communication.’

    ‘Ok, like three dots?' they asked.

    ’Not quite. It’s like this…’ and I sketched out the triangle in this picture. 1 & 2.

    You see, looking and talking with someone else is your first and second point of communication. And usually that’s where meetings and conversations seem to stop. Just you talking to them. Them talking to you.

    How about this? 3. Bring in a third point of communication and you’re really communicating! There is an opportunity for quality sensemaking now.  

    With the third point of communication, now you can go deeper on the content and be more objective. It's great news for people who might feel awkward, anxious or uncomfortable in some meetings and conversations. (All that eye contact!) Adding in the third point, a visual, references the information you’re working on. Now you’re really making sense. 

    Tuesday
    May142019

    Beware the thieves of clarity

    Are you tuned in to what steals clarity in your team, unit or organisation?

    Is it meetings?

    Lengthy reports?

    Status updates?

    Decks and presentations with complicated models, too much text, too many chevrons, arrows and ‘pillars’ or icebergs? ๐Ÿ˜œ

    The race is on for meaning and understanding. The sooner we understand, the sooner we can make decisions, get into action and get feedback and insights on that action.

    But how much might we hiding behind work, tasks and activities that actually steal clarity, create ambiguity and generate more confusion? Do we busy ourselves working on stuff that doesn’t really support clarity … but rather steals it?

    In this complex world, it’s better to be known for being able to cut through and get to clarity; not overly simplified, not dumbed down … just c-l-e-a-r. Today, be on the look out for the thieves of clarity. Don’t let them get away with it. Bring it back, hold onto it, keep it together because other people in the room, in the team, across the organisation need you to … stand up for clarity.

    What do you see that steals clarity and understanding in your world of work?

    Monday
    May132019

    Respect the old please

    'Push the new. Drive the change. Create urgency. Move on.'

    These phrases are part of transformation at work - everyone’s on 'a journey' and many a leader wants us to ‘move on’. Those labelled 'laggards', are derailing change efforts, resisting the new.

    But maybe it’s those who are 'pushing the new' who cause problems by resisting the old, not acknowledging the past. 'We’ve got to move on’ is so dismissive; I never use it in workshops or sessions.

    During change, it's vital to spend some time acknowledging and respecting the way things were. For longer-term employees, dismissing the past, asking them to move on could feel like their efforts are dismissed, their purpose, previous roles, the work they did and their commitment ... dismissed.

    Could we respect the old before moving on with the new, please?

    In Stockholm last week - speaking at the software architect's conference - I visited the ‘old town’; part of the city that’s been preserved, recognised and curated so that in the present day we can understand, learn and respect it.

    We learn where things come from, what it used to be like and it builds empathy and respect.

    What happens when we 'move on' too swiftly?