Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0290, February 20, 2007 ....
 


Dear friends,

Staff meetings, when used as status reporting or information sharing marathons, are the kiss of death. Sitting for an hour or more listening to your peers drone on and on about what they're doing or not doing, especially if their work doesn't directly concern you, is an incredibly mind numbing experience.
In this week's article, "Streamline Status Reporting," we explore strategies you can use to streamline meetings so time can be spent doing what groups do best, collaborating to create new ideas and solutions.


Warmest regards,

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of FacilitatorU.com


 
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The Point


Streamline Status Reporting
Minimize information sharing and use meetings for collaboration

Presenting Skill


Staff meetings, when used as status reporting or information sharing marathons, are the kiss of death. Sitting for an hour or more listening to your peers drone on and on about what they're doing or not doing, especially if their work doesn't directly concern you, is an incredibly mind numbing experience.

Meetings are best used to clarify information already provided, or to create new ideas or solutions that impact all of those present. Information can be shared one-on-one or in writing.

Why are we still status reporting? Managers often depend on status reporting to spot problems to be dealt with collaboratively by the group, or to just check up on staff progress. Here's how to streamline status meetings under these conditions.

Application


You say there's a problem? Many status reporting meetings uncover problems that beg to be solved. This is fine as long as roles and procedures change as you switch from one type to another. Meetings get into trouble when transitions are sloppy. If you think a meeting may switch from reporting to problem solving, make sure a facilitator and recorder are available and everyone agrees to tackle the problem.

Doctor, Doctor, Please! If some status reporting is desired in a meeting, here is a simple process for reporting information that follows the example of a medical doctor's exam.

  • Here's the problem you're facing. Our profits are down 20% this quarter.

  • Under these conditions, here are your options. Based on my assessment, this decrease is due to increased costs of our raw materials. Our options are: 1) To seek out lower cost suppliers or negotiate prices down with our existing suppliers, or 2) implement design modifications that reduce production costs.

  • My recommendation is this. Begin working immediately with suppliers to cut costs, and perform an analysis to assess cost savings of implementing design changes.

Facilitate information sharing meetings by first advising participants to prepare any information they have to share in accordance with the above model. If they'd like or need to share more detailed information to bring participants up to speed, ask them to share it prior to the meeting via email or hardcopy early enough to give participants a chance to review it.

Meeting behavior is a strongly imbedded culturally and takes fierce diligence to change on everyone's part. So coach participants in the use of this model to keep information sharing short and succinct. This will help cut down on information overload and demonstrate respect for all team members' time and energy.

Key Points

  • Ask each "presenter" to design their time to encourage "collaboration" from the group. The opportunity for collaborative work is the most legitimate reason to hold a meeting anyway, so let's use it for that purpose!

  • Ask participants to keep information sharing to an absolute minimum "during" the meeting. Request that all information be distributed to attendees well before the meeting in the form of an executive summary of no more than a page or two.

  • Advise participants to prepare to report their status using the diagnostic model described above. Then coach them during delivery to keep their report succinct and on target.

Action
 

How can you use these strategies in your status meetings? Who can you share these tips with to help them streamline theirs? Any stories you'd like to share about status meetings from hell or heaven? Just reply to this email to send me your comments.

Resource


How Much Joy Can You Stand Workshop Guide and License

My colleague, Suzanne Falter-Barns, author of "How Much Joy Can You Stand?" is running a special offer on her workshop training manual and license until February 25th.

This home study course comes jam-packed with all kinds of creativity bells and whistles and you can customize however you want. So you can either buy the license and lead How Much Joy Can You Stand? workshops by the book. OR ... excitingly ... you can take your own ideas, mash them up with hers, and come up with something entirely new. The full version even teaches you how to create and lead your own retreats and online workshops.

Click here to read how other coaches and trainers have already used this work? She's put together a file of case studies on exactly what they're leading, earning, where they're holding workshops, what works, what doesn't, etc.

This program is great for anyone who needs structure and a place to start, but still has workshop ideas of their own. Check it out here.

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