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Ingredients in Breakthrough Meetings


This insightful video delves into the crucial elements of breakthrough meetings, emphasizing organizational development and team effectiveness. The author underscores the importance of assembling the right people, setting a conducive context, and crafting a pertinent agenda. Facilitation strategies are explored, advocating for a rotational approach rather than the boss taking charge. The video promotes empowering individuals within specified limits, fostering a culture of accountability. Clear points of accountability and deadlines are highlighted as essential outcomes, ensuring commitments are more than mere gestures. Emphasis is also placed on the need for rigorous follow-through to overcome organizational tendencies toward non-compliance.

Video Transcript

Ingredients in breakthrough meetings. How much time do you spend in meetings every day? And you leave the meeting and you think, why in the world was I in the room for that meeting? We didn’t do anything. Nothing really happened. Meetings should produce something different than if you just all went about your day. There’s got to be a good reason for the meeting. Most meetings are to make something happen. That wouldn’t happen without the meeting. So I’ve come up with this term breakthrough years ago as a kind of a way of talking about that kind of change or that kind of creativity or that kind of innovation. Now, Marvin Weisbord, one of my dear colleagues and friends for many years, came up with this notion of when you’re in a consulting project or in any kind of a business setting, what are the ingredients in a meeting that actually produces this kind of thing? And so this is my adaptation of Marv’s list. The first thing is you need to have the right people in the room. Quite often, you have people in the room that don’t need to be there. Why does everybody need to be there for the whole meeting? Maybe people come for a certain period of a certain section of the meeting and then they leave. Who are the people that you’re going to now? Go have to go out and sell something. So you want the principle is to get the whole system, the whole system that is impacted by this particular agenda item. Get all those people in the room, at least in some way, for that period of time. Secondly, you want to set the right context for the meeting.

Something more informal. Make the meeting a safe place for people to talk. Get really clear about what the purpose is and for each agenda item, set an amount of time and a focus and what we need coming out of this agenda item and so forth. So that means you need to have the right agenda. You have to have the things on the agenda that are necessary for that meeting. Lots of times you’ll have things on the agenda that don’t make any sense, that aren’t exactly what you need to be talking about. Third thing is, you have to have the right kind of facilitation. We recommend that the boss not facilitate the meeting much, much stronger actually for you. If you’re the boss to have one of your people facilitate the meeting and take turns, rotate responsibility for facilitation around the group. And that way you’re in a very subtle way training people. There’s actually another video on this on how to train your people during regular meetings. So the right kind of facilitation where the facilitator doesn’t, we were in a meeting the other day with a client, the first time they had ever tried this, where the members of the team were taking turns facilitating. We’d have you go for five minutes, then you go for five minutes. So each person had a five-minute try at facilitating the meeting, and every time it was somebody’s turn, they thought, now is my chance to put my agenda item on the floor and argue for what I want. It’s the opposite. The facilitator needs to step back from being directly engaged in arguing about things and help other people and help the group get what’s needed.

Very, very important. The right kind of facilitation. Then you need to have empowered people. You need to tell people in the room within these limits you can make decisions. Boy, that is so powerful. Then having to go somewhere else to make something happen. You want to end the meeting with very clear single points of accountability? Or who is the single person accountable and very important? What’s the buy when? What is the date by which this person is going to do something? Maybe come back and report on where things are. But you need to have space and by wins for everything that you decide. Otherwise, it’s just interesting. It’s a gesture. It’s not really a commitment. And then finally, you want to do the right kind of follow-through. What happens if people don’t do something that they say they’re going to do? Most organizations have trained people to not follow through. It doesn’t matter. We make the decision. We all sit and look very concerned and committed. We go out of the room and then do whatever we want. So there has to be some kind of follow-through by someone with some kind of authority to make sure that there’s accountability. Do these things get the right people in the room, set the right context, have the right agenda, have the right kind of facilitation, empower people to act. Make sure you have space and by wins and follow through, you definitely will. You’ll let’s say it this way. You’ll raise the chances of having breakthroughs come out of a meeting that’s run like this.

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