Why is Meeting Design and Facilitation an Enabling Service?
When you do Strategic – Intentional Organization Design you have to get many people together to have constructive dialogue and discussion about the design processes, design choices, execution, and follow up. Good meetings lead to good outcomes. Here is how I approach meetings:
I do not hold tightly to any one meeting design and facilitation methodology. I prefer that the business purpose and desired outcomes combined with the nature of the work and the organization be the drivers of methods and processes used.
My approach to designing a meeting is to sit down (sometimes over the phone) with the client representative and have an hour or two talk about the business situation and what the team or group is trying to accomplish. We craft an outline together of the purpose, task, and desired outcomes. We will also often have an initial discussion of the process and methods that could be used to achieve those outcomes. I then go off to craft a “proposal,” which often includes the fee or “required investment” by the client. In some cases the proposal and fee are agreed to in the first meeting. When that happens we move directly into the first iteration of the design itself.
The iterative process of designing the meeting is a tennis match involving the client representative and other stakeholders that must have input to the design and planning of the event or events. Hopefully, we can achieve clarity and agreement on a design and plan quickly. Normally 2 to 6 iterations are required to get to a final design. This is not an easy, simple thinking task. It involves a complex calculus of balancing business and organizational issues with people and group dynamics issues. The openness, honesty, and harmony of those involved are a significant factor in both the design and execution of the meeting. If people are not in harmony or if there are hidden agendas or competition, or other sources of resistance, both the design process and execution will be difficult.
Be assured that I am not dissuaded by nor do I shy away from constructive conflict. However, if the conflict is significant it may necessitate the negotiation of a separate consulting agreement to deal with the conflict before the initial assignment can be pursued.
When executing the meeting, I prefer flexibility. Sometimes issues come up, facts get shared, and concerns get expressed that lead the group to move in a different direction than that which was anticipated. I try to head this off by establishing clarity of and agreement on the purpose, desired outcomes, and activities of the sessions before the meeting. However, organizations and people being what and who they are, I have had several groups over the years decide that the customer/marketplace demand was sending them in a new direction. In those cases it becomes a “design as you go” exercise. Both harrowing and fun at the same time.
Flexibility is also needed in a design that you stick with. Circumstances arise with groups that will require that there be adaptation and adjustment to the flow, sequence, and nature of the activities.
Meeting Follow Up:
Creating and committing to follow up activities that flow from the meeting are normally built into meeting design. The exception to this is when the design specifically calls for an implementation group to convene to design the follow up process.
I can be involved in the follow up process to the degree it will help get the desired results. Hopefully, this can be determined during the design process.
The Meeting Design Card!
Meetings are notorious time waster but are the only viable mechanism for getting work done collectively. They are at the same time the bane of organizational life and the lever by which great work gets done.
Get Pete’s complimentary Meeting Design Card by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org