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December 11, 2017

 

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    Entries in participation (4)

    Sunday
    Jan042015

    Wait... and wait a bit more...

    You know the scenario - it's a team meeting and you're wanting to hear contributions or input, or it's time to hear if people have questions.

    If you're not getting the engagement you want, it will likely be because of two things:

    1. You asked a closed question

    2. You didn't wait.

    Even when engagement isn't that great in a meeting or workshop, the right questions will still elicit contributions.

    Recently at a conference, the leader asked the team :

    Does anyone have any questions?

    It's SO easy to answer that with question a 'no' ... so we can just keep moving and get the hell outta the dull meeting!

    If you're the leader, rather ask a question like:

    So what thoughts are coming to mind?

    What are you wondering about?

    What questions are coming to mind?

    These are open questions; simple, broad, open questions. It's amazing the difference they make. They allow people to just throw something out there. Their thoughts, their wonderings, the questions they may not normally ask.

    Then once you've asked the question... wait.

    Just wait.

    The leader who asked 'Does anyone have any questions?' waited four seconds. I counted them. It can seem like an eternity when you're the asker, but when people are thinking about their thinking and possible questions, four seconds isn't enough.

    Wait more.

    And more.

    And when you think you've waited too long...

    ...wait some more.

    Some of the BEST questions will come when people are simply given some time to come up with the questions and contributions.

    While you're waiting, keep looking at people, looking around the room or table at them; keep an open expression, be interested to hear what they say. Stay ready to hear what they have to say. Wait.

    It reminds me of outback Australian stockmen who work their herds of cattle across the land. They rely so much on their trusty four-legged co-worker, the sheep or cattle dog.

    'W-a-a-a-i-i-i-i-t-t-t-t' they say, telling the dog to just hold it before they round up more cattle.

    Think of that before you jump in after some open questions... just w-w-w-w-a-a-a--i-i-i--t-t-t-t-.

    Thursday
    Dec052013

    A Blueprint for Meetings, Workshops, Conversations

    When you get people together - face to face or via a hookup - you need to make something happen. 

     
    Is it a briefing or transfer of information?
    Is it a consultative thing - you want to ask some questions and find out what they think.
     
    Maybe you need to involve them in the design or development of a process, product or service.
    Perhaps it's about collaboration: 'let's work on this thing together'. 
     
    And sometimes you want them to pick up the ball and run with it, toempower them so that they act and decide.
     
    Whichever of these you'd like to make happen, you need to start with that in mind. Here's a continuum or scale that can guide you:




    I regularly use these five levels and depths of participation (adapted from the International Association for Public Participation - or IAP2) to guide me in:

    • how to prepare for the gathering,
    • how to set up and design the environment they'll meet in,
    • what processes they'll work through and
    • how to handle the stuff that happens during that meeting.


    What you do as a leader will make a b-i-g difference in how well the group goes towards achieving the outcome. 

    It's not "their fault' or 'up to them'. It's on you. 

    If you've called the meeting, are facilitating or leading it or are responsible for getting the outcome, it really helps to get clear about why they are in the room (or dialled in remotely) and how you'll engage them to make something good happen. 

    Those crusty old days of workshops or conversations to 'discuss, decree and demolish' are gone. That's disengaging and ineffective. 

    Start with this Blueprint and zoom in on the levels that suit the outcome you're after. 

    The meeting, workshop or conversation will be more productive, more engaging and the people who've given their time to be there will oh-so grateful you got this sorted!


    Thursday
    Aug012013

    Why people won't buy in to that 'thing'

    In New York last week at the International Forum of Visual Practitioner's conference and it was a week of great meetings, conversations and learning. 
    A stand-out for me was a session by Lynn Carruthers and Sophia Lang - about creating and using visual templates to help people work together, collaborate, create and innovate. 
    On the wall in their session they referenced collaboration and group work wizard and author Sam Kaner. Session presenter Lynn had previously heard Sam say something along the lines of the following :
    She paused, double-checked and got the quote down on paper from Sam when she heard it.

    This for me is a HUGE reason why many groups and teams struggle with building buy-in and getting people to align to complex changes ... as well as the simplest decisions. 
    Check on what you're trying to get people to buy-in to.
    Can they see it?
    Is it visible?
    Or are you all-talk?
    You can check out Sam Kaner's book on participatory decision making here
    Monday
    Sep032012

    Every meeting and conversation is a balancing act  

    Highwire Walker

    Watching someone handle a meeting and conversation well, is just like the skill of a highwire walker. Balancing, woah over balance, back to centre, wait, steady, step forward, balance, wait...

    The almost easy part is moving along the wire to achieve your outcomes. You can run across if you like. But you might lose people along the way. Or, everyone can be having a great time and participating, you'll achieve some outcomes but they won't be on topic or relevant.

    So the balance is between achieving the meeting or session outcomes; involving and engaging the people who are there (in the room or dialling in remotely); and keeping things on topic. It's a balance and you need to let some slight overbalancing happen here and there, but get back to centre, steady and then keep stepping forward.

    In a meeting, workshop, conversation today, notice how the balance is going. Is anyone really participating? Are you getting anywhere? Are you on topic? How are all three coming together to the applause of the crowd?