Meetings, The Benefits of Shared Understanding and How To Achieve it!

Meetings, The Benefits of Shared Understanding and How To Achieve it!
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(Simon) #1

Meetings, The Benefits of Shared Understanding and How To Achieve it!

Had any meetings recently? How would you score the meeting and your co-attendees out of 10?

My own experience is that a ‘10 meeting’ needs clued-up, contributing, relevant people and a good process that travels the path from “Welcome” to “See you next time”. I recently met Kelvin McGrath of MeetingQuality at the 2017 #PMOConference. Kelvin focusses on just these concerns.

Analysing Meetings to Predict Project Success

Kelvin runs http://www.meetingquality.com where he has combined the insights of Ron Burt (Boundary Spanning) and others in a way that allows you to measure the quality of your meetings and business relationships with sufficient insight that the analysis is a contributing predictor of project success!

Finding Out How To Do Better Meetings

My own interest is to turn knowing how to measure, analyse and predict into guidance about how to foster more 10 scoring meetings and enhance project success.

Somewhere in that mix is a second and third theme of interest to me; I believe that remote working - through tools like skype/lync, zoom, hangouts and #slack - offers opportunity for creating BETTER shared understanding than many face-to-face meetings achieve!

The nature of some project ‘meetings’ is now that they are held asynchronously. In that case you should sometimes read ‘collaboration and communications’ where I have written “meetings”.

My third theme is that great communications have to be translated into follow-through of actions and results. Meetings are a hurdle at which we can fall but not of themselves a source of success.

A Need for Less Naive Advice

In total there are many meeting types or meeting purposes. In the specific context of projects at least some of our early meetings are intended to determine direction of travel; to define the target result desired. Getting these right is crucial to success. Other crucial meetings design the journey. Yet others share status etc but maybe success is less sensitive to their quality?

Within the meeting type’s purposes are the determinants of how to foster good meetings. What makes ‘good’ is situational.

The freshly minted The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®-G) 6th Edition (PMBoK-G6) has a newly explicit Tool and Technique at 10.2.2.6 Meeting Management which tells us to distribute agendas and stay on time. Now while that is ‘good advice’ sometimes the advanced creation of an agenda and appointment of a chair person are two ways to contribute to or reinforce a systemically bad meeting that turns off people’s ability to contribute and thus destroys motivation. Not always but potentially. If your aim is to ‘rail-road’ a decision that is how you do it.

The wrong meeting set-up, particularly where it counts; as a project struggles to overcome inertia by collecting and growing people’s enthusiasm has far reaching negative fall-out. Done well the early parts of the project’s interactions bring the participants to a place where enthusiasm and energy build team and momentum that helps us cruise to project delivery.

Have you ever received any meeting ‘best-practice’ advice that said something other than “You HAVE TO have an agenda and a chair”? If not then thus far the guidance you’ve received is rather naive. PMBoK-G6 expresses a vastly different perspective on project best practices than its predecessors but it is repeating socially naive guidance when it comes to meetings and meetings are perhaps the dominant consumer of project team time and energy and so the fulcrum of project success or failure.

Lets explore more deeply.

Shared Mental Models

The way in which together we achieve project results is by sharing understanding. Understanding is searched for and ‘constructed’ by building models in our heads of the world around us.

When we seek to share those models, we embark on a hard task.

It is no surprise (I hope) that the process is helped by pictures over words and working (prototype?) systems over pictures. Until Elon Musk’s Nueralink human computer interface or its imitators and successors are in wide use we will have to manage with yellow sticky notes, the ubiquitous (mis-use?) of PowerPoint equivalents and increasingly the tools of virtual collaboration spaces like shared desktops.

Even pictures and prototypes are of no use if the sociological aspects of people’s interactions are not also tuned to the constructive needs of the participants. Here it starts to get complicated. Kelvin directed me to a paper by Christoph Haug that analyses the elements of a meeting’s conduct. Christoph’s analysis explores physical meetings but is still very relevant to my interests of a functional meeting using virtual team technologies in a project setting.

Words Across A Table

Physical meetings take many forms, for example folk may be sat around a table. These meetings favour words as the medium of exchange. Tables and words are the first factors affecting achievement of purpose if that purpose is design oriented. The presence of the table 1) creates a physical barrier and 2) puts some attendees where the likely dynamics are face-to-face or in constant direct eye contact while other’s eye-contact becomes hard. These forces have a myriad affects.

At least everyone knows how to sit at a table and in that case the full range of words, tone of voice, body language and so much more non-verbal communication becomes part of the total dialogue. The fuller communications can enrich the discussion by aiding the transmission of ideas, promote debate and enhance search for shared view-points and acknowledged ranges of disagreement.

On the other hand, barriers such as tables, non-verbal cueing and other factors are also the sources of a disempowering meetings. For example the chair can use eye-contact to ‘allow’ speakers to contribute and eye-contact can inhibit people to broach difficult topics. In the virtual world participants can be further disadvantaged by being unsure of the technology and the new etiquette conventions such as how to signal “I have a point to contribute here”.

When the wrong meeting structure is selected or the wrong conduct allowed, encouraged or even enforced then the sociological and psychological forces at play reduce the chance of success or even prevent it.

Wrong Meetings

I can recall several whispered “that was a load of b****cks” comments with colleagues in the corridor on exit from failed meetings. I have two opposites in my mind. One started “we need your input…” and then set the agenda and told us the problem, told us the diagnosis, told us the resulting actions imposed on us, the ‘solution’ (which by the way didn’t work) was already a fait-accompli. Contributions were not wanted. Another likewise started “we need your input…” but ground to a halt as the facilitator struggled to get anyone present to contribute freely. Participants had insufficient trust to share their opinions openly because everyone knew resolution needed some bruising exchanges and the prevailing culture was one of power not seeming to be linked to very open ears.

In contrast to meetings held by sitting at the same table are electronically hosted meetings. They may put all the participants in different locations but they also remove eye-contact and change the dynamics of what is socially acceptable. For example, lack of eye contact, even as reduced by video meetings allows remote participants to step-outside physical meeting norms. I have several current team member colleagues who self-selected virtual working as their preferred way to work collaboratively because it allows then freedoms they didn’t enjoy face-to-face such as raising topics otherwise considered too sensitive. It seems remoteness makes people bolder; perhaps in compensation for a reduction in intensity?

Perhaps most usefully eMeetings put all the inputs and tools of search-engines, document and picture libraries, shared white-boards, even animation, video and increasingly 3D printing and more not just at our shared finger tips but centre stage of our meeting’s expected conduct. Output wise eMeetings make easy and already common recordings that time-shift for absent colleagues. Real time speech to text is also easy but so far uncommon in my experience.

On the negative side and most obvious is that electronically hosted discussion enables, perhaps even encourages multi-tasking which is a comprehension killer in any situation that needs attention to detail. Virtual collaboration spaces are powerful amplifiers of the good and the bad.

Not Routinely There Yet

Collaboration tools from PowerPoint and flip-charts to shared virtual desktops and #slack are with us all the time now but in my experience the transition to routine use by all is far from yet achieved. While people COULD use them in physically collocated meetings take-up beyond static PowerPoint is low and fluency in virtual spaces is even lower.

For example my experience in virtual meetings is that I find I’m in the minority switching on a webcam. My experience is that often the technical environment has glitches whose causes are roughly equally security policies and immature tech. Bandwidth issues are less of a challenge but not eradicated. Prime though is that our participants are not sufficiently tool literate to use the facilities available.

Additionally, continual shared collaboration spaces like #slack require everyone to communicate through them. I frequently experience (and sometimes cause) several days delay for simple replies from busy people.

Kelvin tells me his data shows that the biggest bug-bear of mixed in-person and virtual meetings is inadequate attention to the participants out of the room by those in the room and that even slack’s CEO recognises that when part of asynchronous collaboration moves back to eMail then “it [open forum discussion] tends to fall apart”.

Shared generation of value is only likely if the people have the skills in both the new cultural paradigms and tool literacy, the tech. works and the meeting’s combination of ‘Regimes’ is conducive to purpose.

 

Regimes

Meeting regimes are Christophe Haug’s decomposition of 6 themes of constraint to 18 variations (I have applied my own filters and interpretations and rewordings to his ideas). For the original see the references at the end.

For a fuller – but still adapted – description of Christoph’s Regimes see the tables in the appendix.

6 Meeting Regimes, Each of Three Options
Pre-scripted Framing Regime Open-Space Framing Regime Evolving Script Framing Regime The three choices on the axis of choice for how we set the meeting’s agenda
Informal Turn Taking Regime Formal Turn Taking Regime Casual Turn Taking Regime Three mechanisms for allocating people’s turn to contribute
Authority Leadership Regime Egalitarian Leadership Regime Complex Equality Leadership Regime Three places where the authority can rest
Conflict Avoidance Social Regime Conflict Based Social Regime Candour Social Regime Three ways to handle contentious content
Grape-Vine Boundary Regime Plenary Boundary Regime Functionality Boundary Regime How rigidly enforced is the meeting’s timings and use of tools or techniques
Ignored Environmental Regime Inclusive Environmental Regime Pragmatic Environmental Regime How (if) the location and facilities affect the meeting
The 6 combined regimes in this column have the potential to be the most disempowering. They may rubber stamp and formalise a foregone decision The 6 regimes in this column may lead to creative meetings without a conclusion A meeting using this combination of regimes is likely to raise, debate and close issues but risks external politics negating its results
 

What I have ‘lifted’ verbatim is Christoph’s analysis of how the three patterns of regime combination in the table result in differently empowering (or in the first column’s case disempowering) meetings. Christoph points out that 726 more combinations are possible beyond the three above!

Disempowering May Not Be All Bad

The first column above could be great for a project sponsor explaining the vision they are paying to have delivered. That can be a vital part of project success.

But big but; it is a disaster for a group of subject matter experts seeking to explore and debate design issues with the aim of shared understanding and commitment to act – which is also a vital part of project success.

I’ll explain more of regimes and their combination into styles later. The right style simply enables. The meeting’s style determines how the meeting is run. Within that style we also need the right participants being enabled.

Right People

I could write reams here about meeting passengers etc. but I’ll be more succinct. A valuable participant has the subject matter expertise to understand and contribute to the meeting’s purpose. They also have a reason to attend. They arrive appropriately prepared and with will and energy to play their part (appropriate preparation can range from ‘none’ so as to arrive with an open mind through to rehearse, scripted presentations and more).

In addition to a proposed list of 18 ‘real’ reasons to attend meetings amazingly Kelvin’s data from the field shows about 1 in 8 participants have a 19th which is they don’t know why they are at any given meeting.

Segmentation?

In some circumstances a participant’s value may be the authority to make decisions.

I have found in many projects that some topics deserve a meeting that explores options and a separate meeting that decides and different (overlapping?) participants at each.

In my experience, the power of a segmentation approach has been that I can get senior people to attend short meetings with clear focus and a decision orientation. I can build motivation in open forum that searches for opinion and consensus. I can combine the two to avoid the “won’t talk in front of the boss/ overdrive attention seeking in front of the boss/ blind agreement with the boss” types of dysfunction while keeping the combined ‘commitment to act, and act with authorisation’ overall.

Finding the Right People For Action

I mentioned Ron Burt above. Burt shows us how people in organisations are connected to each other and that some individual’s connections reach a long way from what we might call their local close circle. He called these people boundary spanners. They are connectors. Many commentators have since shared Mark Granovetter’s “The Strength of Weak Ties” and Malcolm Gladwell’s observations in his book Tipping Point.

I’ll assert that in a project environment there is only one ultimate reason to hold all the ancillary meeting types; to motivate and coordinate committed actions. All the others are preparatory of this ultimate reason.

Gladwell identified that to build momentum needs a stickie message and the ability to reach out through connections to new communities.

Gladwell describes three personality traits that have been combined whenever we see unstoppable social momentum; someone with a message (the maven) links with someone who is highly connected who links with someone who is highly persuasive (the salesperson). Of course all three abilities may reside in one head.

The right meeting style (collection of regimes) is an example of multi-criteria decision making where participant’s personality type, the nature of the subject matter, the meeting’s purpose and the shared culture are all contributing factors.

Better Sharing

One step to better meetings is to understand the axis of analysis that reveal the social mechanisms in use. Social mechanisms are often forces affecting us all that a lot of people could not name or describe but that we recognise when they are explained. Christoph’s regimes are an example.

Another axis is the technologies available (but not if our environmental regime is ‘Ignored’ – see the regime definitions later).

Another is our choice of words. All sharing of ideas and options needs communications. Words can be helpful but they are also a hindrance (more in a minute). Communication is often best achieved using graphics. Working prototypes systems can be even better but are hard to create – although note that a scrum (agile) end of sprint product demonstration is a discussion with a working system and could be said to be using the ‘Inclusive’ environmental regime (recall more regime details in the appendix).

Frustration of Words Around A Table

Using more graphics is obviously aided when we use tools like skype well or when we use white-boards and flip-charts well. ‘Search for understanding’ meetings where people are sat around a table and rely on just words always frustrate me. Words are so often, so far from well used to convey concept.

Is it just me or do you also hear people start their descriptions with an obvious encyclopaedia of assumed but unlisted, unexplained factors creating ambiguity and uncertainty in their messages? How much better then to use graphics tools and how much better to de-materialise the meeting around shared collaboration spaces that everyone has equal access to? Even concurrent access!

Lets explore words and structuring their presentation a little more.

Vocabularies and MindSets

Chelle Rose Charvet wrote an excellent book (Words That Change Minds) on people’s mindsets and how their words reveal them. Are you a big-picture person? Rule bound or rule maker? Problem resolving or goal seeking? Should I aim to help you ‘see what I mean’, ‘Hear what I say’ or ‘Sing from the same hymn sheet’ or ‘get in step’?

Whether we draw pictures and build models or not we still need to use words. Even when we can perceive the mindset of a speaker or of our listeners from their words and thus improve the transmission of meaning we still face the challenge of constructing arguments that link objectives or problems to actions that are agreed and taken.

Problem Description

Describing a vision (seekers) or problem is bringing us towards my third interest above – generating committed actions. But first we need to overcome the problem that to simply agree the description of goals and problems turns out to be hard in some cases.

The terms ‘Wicked Problem’ and ‘Mess Management’ have been used to describe ‘problems’ whose description and analysis is fraught with complexity. Wikipedia gives a good introduction to wicked problems and the whole class of responses. Responses are ‘vocabularies’ and techniques for argumentation and design rationale representations like Horst Rittel’s IBIS (and see also Jintae Lee and Kum-Yew Lai’s 1992 MIT working paper). A wicked problem is one: whose existence involves emergence, whose description is unique for each observe, whose description anchors the solution search, whose potential solutions cannot be assessed in advance as right/wrong and often only present as “that’s enough” after we get past a point of recognition and for which each attempt at solution changes the problem left.

When dealing with these problems when is it right and useful to use which tools and techniques? What meeting style should be combined with which purposes and participants?

Great Meetings – A Hint Towards How To:…

Great meetings need the right style from Christoph’s 6 axis of constraint. Then within that context there are techniques and orientations which can assist us to build teams that select and deliver the organisation’s portfolios of project based change.

Kick-Off

Most people have heard of Kick-Off meetings.

Kick-Offs communicate “this is where we are going, why action is needed, what the constraints are”. As I alluded above Christoph’s ‘Disempowering’ combination may well be the most appropriate in this context. Used well the impression created could be a clear vision, a firm sense of direction and confirmation of reliable sponsorship through easy and tough times. Maybe disempowering should be relabelled Power-Focussing?

Within the Kick-Off context my preferred tool for envisioning is the Program Exit Test (maybe I should ™ that!). Adapted from Use-Cases, Test Driven Development and elsewhere “As <role> I am coming to inspect <operational procedures> in routine use on <date>”.

There is so much that flows from the backcasting of actions from program exit tests through business behavioural tipping points, benefit flow measurements and eventually cascade-able project milestone targets that I’ll leave the expansion here to my video training on project meetings at http://learn.logicalmodel.net/. Suffice to say we have to know how to conduct a meeting, use techniques to share opinions AND have the tool-set to capture the meeting’s agreed semantic content.

Framing Sessions Before and After Kick-Offs

Less people seem to use framing sessions. They are perhaps more important than kick-offs for the success of business investments (projects).

Here it is appropriate to use Christoph’s functional boundary and pragmatic environment regimes. It is right to add discussion tools like those I previously mentioned from Hörst Rittel and wicked problems (IBIS and the Compendium software) and Russel Ackoff’s Mess Management perspective of synthesis instead of analytical decomposition.

Framing sessions need chairing or facilitating, they still need participants from the right constituencies, they need communication outside the meeting that has previously ‘kicked-off’ something empowered and they will need other communications that will subsequently turn exploration into decision then decision into action and then action to results.

Framing asks “what is possible? Where are the possible boundaries?, How?, Can we chart the implications of competing choices?”. Used well these are optioneering sessions whose result can be to build commitment by having shown willingness to listen. They do not have to be power-sharing but they are encouraging the use of a debate-space.

If Kick-off cascades the target destination (What) then framing is the nemawashi* before kick-off that selected destinations and the nemawashi after kick-off that option-eers potential solutions (How-To) backwards from Program Exit Test to project milestones via Gladwell’s Tipping-Points using Ritel’s IBIS or other argumentation language.

[*Nemawashi is the Japanese word for the activity to socialise an idea and to build committed consensus]

Governance and Freedom

When the context is complex then the governance control regime is freedoms, adaptive and iterative. When the context is linear certainty and simplicity then management can be predictive and optimised for efficient swift delivery.

Once again it is too much to include the details here of how meeting protocol, ideation tools and project governance, leadership and management all coalesce but project success depends on them and increasingly we are seeking success in collaborations based on virtual team spaces.

I’ll just summarise by saying that once our meeting constraints are well constructed then our envisioning meetings benefit from an attendee outlook that synthesises rather than analyses and benefits from tools that capture proposition and argument to visualise conversations and choices. I’ll leave the expansion of these themes to my video training on project meetings at http://learn.logicalmodel.net/.

See the Appendices -


Please share your research articles!
The do's and don'ts of hybrid meetings
(Simon) #2

Appendix: Explaining In Summary The Three Meeting Styles From Christoph Haug

Haug defines a meeting’s style as the combination of the way the 6 regime’s are handled. Three of his styles are entirely distinct in their combinations of regime elements. I.e. the three regime choices do not overlap at all in the three styles (collections of regimes)

The Six Regimes

Lets first share his 6 regimes.
Regime Description
Framing Regime How to create & maintain the meetings terms of reference, definition and order of business – affected by the organisation’s norms

Purpose – why people convene – Can be vague to focussed – Meaning – frame of reference to interpret meeting’s content – defines actions and words that can be said & meaning heard.

Should we decide or just exchange ideas? Just find cause or solution

Frame of now = Meeting’s process & why & how & task

Frame of target reality = Define the content / issue/ substance. The what and goal

Frames are created by agendas- Removes need/ ability to negotiate.

Participants then interpret

Turn Taking Regime Contribution sequencing

Meeting = 1 focus, people talk in turn, Order affects meaning – Sense is path dependant – Conditional Relevance & Adjacency pairing – each person’s words = context of the next persons = interpretation that is heard next

Who we speak to is last speaker, last target topic or group as whole

Conditional relevance = what is heard is interpreted in context of previously said, what is said expected to link to what was just heard. Constrains participant’s contributions. “The opportunity didn’t arise to say…”

Techniques to suspending sequence base conditional relevance include:

· Formalize order – E.g. Round-robin (no replies)- or

· Formalise content- E.g. Brainstorming

· Allocate turns – Queue allows each speaker to speak as if first

Leadership Regime Leadership regimes handle emerging status differences and where decision making authority lies.

Groups develop hierarchy through public interaction (so via meetings) based on the apparent evaluation made by others plus asymmetry of reciprocation of gestures of approval.

Strong reciprocity by everyone to everyone = symmetry = maintenance of flatter hierarchies Pg 18

I.e. What I think of someone is based on what I think you think. Initiating meetings often = initial status.

Social Regime Politeness or etiquette –– What is embarrassing and how to handle the potential for loss of face

Respecting the people as equals, Binding us to interact

People self claim social value from ‘my contribution’.

Loss of face = embarrassment to others.

Social rituals to save face, avoid embarrassment and insult. Pretences that save face

What issues are in/out of bounds – moving the bounds of insult/embarrassment

Conflict Social Regime is needed for Egalitarian Leadership Regime; otherwise embarrassment stops challenge to/ correction of hierarchy forming actions like asymmetric reciprocity.

Boundary Regime Meeting’s temporal boundaries and sense of urgency. Distinctiveness of formal meeting’s start and end.

The meeting’s wider context in time – Meetings have defined start and end times – An episode

Fixed time introduces urgency, leads to rationing of time for efficiency

Start and end may be fuzzy or sharp – Conduct of pre-meeting and post-meeting boundary and use of breaks make meeting’s ‘boundaries’ thick or thin – Does meeting continue in breaks? Or are they for social interactions

Environmental Regime Boundary between the meeting and its physical context and the handling (Masking) of intrusions. May be strict (‘abstract’) or ‘porous/ integrating/ Inclusive’ or ‘instrumental/ fitness physical boundaries,

Are location and equipment and non-participants acknowledged or ‘masked out’ as irrelevant? – Affects participants attention

‘masking’ is ignoring distractions – Service personnel and whispered side-conversations – shows of emotion – Masking can disintegrate when the waiter spills the soup,

Does a flip-chart have to be used? Does arrangement of furniture matter? If notes made are projected must people pay attention? Are shared notes the central focus or even the meeting’s main product

 

 

Three Meeting Style Created by Combining Regimes (1st Layout)

A meeting style is a collection of one each of the ways a Regime can be applied to the meeting.

Each of the three options for a regime (so 18 in total) are described below. The three styles below have non-overlapping use of the regimes.

The Disempowering Style

Pre-scripted Framing Regime Meeting’s content is pre-ordained – Low autonomy for participants in meeting – Agenda adopted as form-ality– Acceptance of constraint imposed from outside the meeting – May state question and if a decision is to be made even the Answers available – Rubber stamp – Efficient – Transparent – No debate – Legitimacy – Formal – Confirmed Stable Certain Simple Clear
Informal Turn Taking Regime As ordinary conversation - Sequential constraints apply – what is heard is in context of what was just said. speakers self-select or selected at transition points – transition includes interrupt to place relevant response at right point because relevancy moves on. – Supports Decision making (Proposal + Acceptance + Confirmation) easily created by ITTR, Path dependency stops ideas not resonant with leaders’ agenda while Avoidance stifles contributing new ideas
Authority Leadership Regime Authority Leadership Regime ALR – Supports hierarchy – Leader and followers – low reciprocity – centralises & monopolises decision making – puts stable hierarchy before task efficiency and individual’s DM performance in a field. Someone to make it happen

leader and hierarchy focus old social stays in place and unlinked from everyday lives

Conflict Avoidance Social Regime Act to avoid conflict, Appearance of harmony – like-mined (not other-minded) friendly people no need for fear or identity challenge – social bonds, solidarity, enhance taboos
Grape-Vine Boundary Regime Meeting is an excuse to assemble backstage – pre- post- breaks linger – informal and bi-lateral get business done – Meeting tends to be welcome & final announcements – confirm decisions – eMail is 1-2-1 – comms is opaque
Ignored Environmental Regime (Abstract Environmental Regime) – Clear boundary – meeting separate from context - behind closed doors without interruptions – place is meaningless – participants body language and emotions are pretended to be irrelevant – tools (flip-charts/ beamers) are eschewed as distractions
Disempowering Style’s Results Interaction constraints are beyond most participants ability to affect.

Participants are in a ritualistic silent pretence of endorsement of what is outside of their ability to influence.

 

Inclusive Empowerment Style

Open-Space Framing Regime Open Space Frame Regime – Agenda is fluid to ref-framing whether created before or in meeting – emerges from affinity - keep on toes – express self – diversity – find common ground – creativity – unforced coordination – BUT also means ‘norms can force the format’
Formal Turn Taking Regime Formal turn taking regime – An administered list or queue – may be queue skipping rules - Diversity
Egalatarian Leadership Regime Egalitarian Leadership Regime ELR – hi reciprocity – defies/ removes hierarchy – undoing-status-response – no surrender of judgement – individuals have a duty to exercise their right
Conflict Based Social Regime Fight Social Regime – Moves social bonding outside the meeting and deny relevance of ‘face’ to meeting’s purpose, Design meeting as stage to Encourage controversy, Individuals learn to avoid dominating and being dominated – Challenge others if seen to intimidation/ silencing/ overruling, Voice the ‘unpopular’ – checks formation of hierarchy-taboo, Positions are weighed Needs familiarity to not be overwhelming to new and timid
Plenary Boundary Regime Plenary Boundary Regime – the meeting’s business is only in session not in breaks – transparency, inclusion, time may run on at end or over breaks, mailing-lists and slack channels ensure dialogue is with everyone – Coffee break for personal, social not meeting content – (Southern European?)
Inclusive Environmental Regime Inclusive Environmental Regime – porous boundary environment affects content and conduct – environment is part of meeting – relevant material evidence – field-trip and site visit – staff-room – board-room – Local customs affect – may influence sequencing & participants
Inclusive Empowerment Style support individuals and spontaneity – OpenSpace Regime allows floating ideas, Turn Taking Regime frees conversation path, egalitarian Regime encourages listening w/out bias by ‘status’, Fight regime lifts taboos enabling free expression and challenge to dominant people and ideas, Plenary Regime makes all topics common discussions, Thin boundaries allow external sources to have influence – The feeling is open and may be one of out of control – Fosters understanding, diffusion of knowledge and experience, curtails constraints, Unlikely to reach Single conclusion because the remove dominant structures without building new ones
 

Exclusive Empowerment Style

Evolving Script Framing Regime Evolving script Regime – Structure is (re-)created by participants at start – parking issues – prep doesn’t overrule spontaneous – proposes persuade acceptance of agenda – Follow and Add to agenda
Casual Turn Taking Regime Casual Turn Taking Regime CTTR –FTTR with interrupt “Can I respond” Issue over Speaker – Close each topic as we go. Important points at time of relevance
Complex Equality Leadership Regime Complex Equality Leadership Regime CELR – leadership circulates based on topic, limited and ephemeral, authority is not surrender of judgement but trust in others open to challenge, Authority revocable, assigned pragmatically
Candour Social Regime Candour Social Regime – Combine sensitivity to feelings with fight approach – Based on friendships and trust, Hot topics need meeting’s permission and policing ‘within reason’ – Topics addressed to ‘meeting’ so conflict is impersonal
Functionality Boundary Regime Functionality Boundary Regime – Meeting & boundary design fitted to problem and time efficiently, eg brainstorm, networking, decisions – timekeeping is not rigid but time isn’t wasted in breaks – uses breakouts & main-arena report back. ‘Breaks’ may be formalised to ‘working lunch’ meeting informalised to break-outs & games – task specific mail themes – wiki & slack channels prepare the meeting not hold it (Northern European)
Pragmatic Environmental Regime Pragmatic Environmental Regime – Environment’s elements clearly in-/ex-cluded – the away-day & whiteboard – meeting uses environment such as tools rather than disturbed or ignoring it – Meta talk if required “turn the projector on” or bad-vibes

Exclusive Empowerment Style

support the collective – Build in-meeting structures – Agenda developed by participants – Formal and informal turn taking raises and closes issues – Complex equality uses best leader per topic – facilitator role creates progress – Candor balances feelings and progress, Scheduled timekeeping keeps focus on collective concerns, environment and tools visualise issues – the event (may have) has autonomy separate from the organisation but risks silencing people due to real external politics
 

 

 

 

DisEmpowering

Inclusive Empowering

Exclusive Empowering

Framing Regime

frames, purpose - why people convene - vague to focussed – meaning - frame of reference to interpret content - defines actions and words that can - be said & meaning heard. Should we decide or just exchange, find cause or solution

Pre-scripted Framing Regime

Low autonomy in meeting – agenda adopted as form-ality– acceptance of constraint from outside the meeting – may state Qn and If a decision is made even the Answers available – Rubber stamp – Efficient – Transparent – no debate – legitimacy – formal – confirmed SCSC

Open Space Framing Regime

Agenda is fluid to ref-framing whether created before or in meeting – emerges from affininty - keep on toes – express self – diversity – find common ground – creativity – unforced coordination – BUT also means ‘norms can force the format’

Evolving Script Framing Regime

Structure is (re-)created by participants at start – parking issues – prep doesn’t overrule spontaneous – proposes persuade acceptance of agenda – Follow and Add to agenda

Turn-Taking Regime

a. Meeting = 1 focus, people talk in turn, Order affects meaning – Sense is path dependant – Conditional Relevance – Adjacency pairing – each persons words = context of the next persons = interpretation that is heard next - Who we speak to is last speaker, last target, group as whole

b. Suspending sequence base conditional relevance – Formalize order-round robin (no replies)- or formalise content- brainstorm-Allocate turns – Queue allows each speaker to speak as if first – Brainstorm

Informal Turn taking regime (ITTR)

Ordinary conversation = sequential constraints apply – speakers self-select or selected at transition points – transition includes interrupt to place relevant response at right point because relevancy moves on. – Supports Decision making (Proposal + Acceptance + Confirmation) easily created by ITTR

Formal turn taking regime

An administered list or queue – may be queue skipping rules - Diversity

Casual Turn Taking Regime CTTR

FTTR with interrupt “Can I respond” Issue over Speaker – Close each topic as we go. Important points at time of relevance

Leadership Regime

Groups develop hierarchy through public interaction (so via meetings) based on the apparent evaluation made by others plus asymmetry of reciprocation of gestures of approval What I think of someone is based on what I think you think. Initiating meetings often = initial status. Strong reciprocity = symmetry = flatter hierarchies Pg 18

Authority Leadership Regime ALR

Supports hierarchy – Leader and followers – low reciprocity – centralises & monopolises decision making – puts stable hierarchy before task efficiency and individual’s DM performance in a field. Someone to make it happen

Egalitarian Leadership Regime ELR

hi reciprocity – defies/ removes hierarchy – undoing-status-responses – no surrender of judgement to a leader – individuals have a duty to exercise their right

Complex Equality Leadership Regime CELR

leadership circulates based on topic, limited and ephemeral, authority is not surrender of judgement but trust in others open to challenge, Authority revocable, assigned pragmatically

Social Regime

Respecting the people as equals, Banding us to interact, Self claimed social value from ‘my contribution’. Loss of face = embarrassment to others. Social regimes (pretend) to save face

Politeness Regimes or etiquette – Rituals to save face, avoid embarrassment and insult – what issues are in/out of bounds – moving the bounds of insult/embarrassment – Conflict needed for egalitarian - W/out conflict hierarchy formation isn’t challenges because of embarrassment

Conflict Avoidance Social Regime – pg22

Act to avoid conflict, Appearance of harmony – like-mined (not other-minded) friendly people no need for fear or identity challenge – social bonds, solidarity, enhance taboo,

Fight Social Regime

Moves social bonding outside the meeting and deny relevance of ‘face’ to meeting’s purpose, Design meeting as stage to Encourage controversy, Individuals learn to avoid dominating and being dominated – Challenge others if seen to intimidation/ silencing/ overruling, Voice the ‘unpopular’ – checks formation of hierarchy-taboo, Positions are weighed Needs familiarity to not be overwhelming to new and timid

Candour Social Regime

Combine sensitivity to feelings with fight approach – Based on friendships and trust, Hot topics need meeting’s permission and policing ‘within reason’ – Topics addressed to ‘meeting’ so conflict is impersonal

Time Boundary Regime

The meetings wider context – Defined S&E of episode = urgency-rationing of time for efficiency, S&E are fuzzy – pre- and post- and breaks make boundaries thick – meeting may continue in breaks

Time Regimes – sharpness of formal meeting’s boundary –

Grape-vine Boundary Regime

Meeting is an excuse to assemble backstage – pre- post- breaks linger – informal and bi-lateral get business done – Meeting tends to be welcome & final announcements – confirm decisions – eMail is 1-2-1 – comms is opaque

Plenary Boundary Regime

the meeting’s business is only in session not in breaks – transparency, inclusion, time may run on at end or over breaks, mailing-lists and slack channels ensure dialogue is with everyone – Coffee break for personal, social not meeting content – (Southern European?)

Functionality Boundary Regime

Meeting & boundary design fitted to problem and time efficiently, eg brainstorm, networking, decisions – timekeeping is not rigid but time isn’t wasted in breaks – uses breakouts & main-arena report back. ‘Breaks’ may be formalised to ‘working lunch’ meeting informalized to break-outs & games – task specific mail themes – wiki & slack channels prepare the meeting not hold it (Northern European)

Environmental Boundary Regime

How we regard location and equipment and non-participants – affects participants attention – ‘masking’ is ignoring distractions – Service personnel and whispered side-conversations – shows of emotion – Masking can disintegrate when the waiter spills the soup, Does a flip-chart have to be used? Does arrangement of furniture matter? If notes made and projected must people pay attention? Or are they Central focus and Meeting’s product

Environmental Regimes – Boundary between the meeting and its context – Strict/ abstract, pourous/ integrating/ Inclusive, instrumental/ fitness

Ignored Environmental Regime

Clear boundary – meeting separate from context - behind closed doors without interruptions – place is meaningless – participants body language and emotions are pretended to be irrelevant – tools (flip-charts/ beamers) are eschewed as distractions

Inclusive Environmental Regime

Porous boundary environment affects content and conduct – environment is part of meeting – relevant material evidence – field-trip and site visit – staff-room – board-room – Local customs affect – may influence sequencing & participants

Pragmatic Environmental Regime

Environment’s elements clearly included or excluded – the away-day & whiteboard – meeting uses environment such as tools rather than disturbed or ignoring it – Meta talk if required “turn the projector on” or bad-vibes
 

(Christoph Haug) #3

Thanks, Simon, for sharing your thoughts. They are quite long though. While there is nothing wrong with elaborate thoughts (I heard that some people fill entire books with them!), most people don’t read long texts just because they are in front of them. They ask: “Why should I make the effort of reading this text?” And if they don’t find a reason why they should read it, they won’t. That is why books have blurbs, articles have abstracts and reports have executive summaries. They are a service to the reader (for some people it’s enough to read the abridged version) and to the author (who will get more and better readers).

If you want to add a summary, you can easily edit your post by clicking on the :pencil2: icon at the end of the post.


(Simon) #4

Hi

Thanks for these thoughts. Thanks for the links to references on the mechanisms for precis

I’m struck to wonder several things. What’s a better reader? After asking for content is this responce encouragment to continue via an adjusted path? Perhaps your personal preference is for a quick summary so this is a request without being quite explicit? In all what is your underlying message?

A precise was on my mind. You asked for contents, in a format I didn’t have so the time I invested was reformatting over reducing.

I have 85000 words that are a draft book if you want to examine I can share a url.

Ciao

Simon


(Christoph Haug) #5

I suspected someone would ask that. :wink: By a better reader I mean someone who actually reads the text instead of just skimming it, which increases the chance for a fruitful discussion about the text.

I’m not sure I understand your question. All I was trying to say is that a summary might be a good idea. Whether you consider that encouraging or not, I don’t know.

I don’t think, it’s just my personal preference, As I mentioned, it’s quite common practice. In fact, I didn’t suggest this because I personally want a summary. I’m going to read the whole thing sooner or later, given that you are engaging with some of my own thoughts. My suggestion was that of a facilitator, if you wish. And you are, of course, free to accept or dismiss it. There is no underlying message.


(Claire Feeney) #6

I agree. Some really interesting thoughts and ideas but perhaps a few too many in one post to elicit a real discussion. I think your single post here could be broken down into lots of smaller ones that could be debated. I haven’t written 85,000 words on meetings (yet) so I don’t have all the material to hand so I can’t deal with all of the points made or elements included.

I have a couple of questions. How were the meetings studied and analysed? The methodology tells me a lot about on what you may be basing your recommendations for better meetings - so I am curious about that first and foremost.

So for instance there could be an entire discussion on the new experience for many of mixed meetings - with participants both present and remote. This really interests me. You rightly point out the way this technology allows the ignoring of social rules. In combination though it poses particular issues. All the usual social interaction rules and techniques we use to claim a turn and hold it are very difficult to achieve when you are a floating head on a screen rather than a physical presence in the room. Really interesting topic!

My own methodology is conversation analysis - the study of talk in interaction, turn by turn as it happens in situ - so these are I guess the things I would focus in on, I am guessing that others might find other parts more attractive.

I’m also interested in the ‘boundary spanning’ citation you give and will be looking up that work so thanks!

Claire


(Simon) #7

Hi Claire.
My 85k words are on driving change via projects, not meetings :slight_smile: Meetings do ‘pop-up’ in lots of places but are a component not the theme.

I’m happy for people to break things out to discuss? The above expresses ideas that I want to build into practitioner training. Its purpose was to allow me to explore what I believe and Kelvin agreed with. Bias rich! It is not a researched piece in any way that I expect folk here would recognise. I have not capability or aspiration to adopt an academic approach, nor I believe the need for my purposes.

My interest is to meld ideas from many sources with my own experience and seek to pass it on to others to use in the work-place. I trawl for the plausible expressed (or re-expressible) as useful. I’m happy to let others be rigorous. I shared here because Christoph’s excellent (rigorous etc) insight is part of the content.

I think that is your “foremost” covered?

In my experience mixed meetings are harder that purely virtual. IMHO most mixed meetings havethe remote community on voice only. In a recent 95% virtual project I found people only used video if I did and then still often not. I suggest the ability of the host and/or participants to moderate and be inclusive is the key factor. I’ve run training (1-m) and workshops (m-m) and meetings in both 100% F2Fm 100% virtual and mixed. Each benefits from an evolving set of techniques. I find strong folk in audio only meetings will break-in and I find many facilitators will frequently check by name and in general for waiting participation.

my link to my references includes several references and links to papers on boundary spanning. I guess you also know actor network theory and complex adaptive systems thinking, 6-degrees of separation, weak ties, bounded rationality and requisite variety? I think these are all juxtaposed to the topic of achieving and i think meetings (in my context) are about enabling targeted achievements
Ciao
PS how is that clever quoting above done?


How to quote what someone else wrote?
(Christoph Haug) #8

This is a very interesting topic. I recently talked to @Arnfalk about those kinds of hybrid meetings and we agreed that they pose some interesting challenges to the facilitator. Maybe it’s worth starting a new topic on hybrid meetings?


(Christoph Haug) #9

A post was split to a new topic: The do’s and don’ts of hybrid meetings


(W. E. Christwitz) #10

Thanks for sharing all this handy wisdom. I find your approaches have already dented some of my inner habits with new info. I’ve copied your piece to my “meeting” file for further study, and won’t quote it without your permission.


(Elise Keith) #11

Hi Simon,

I’m not familiar with the term “framing session”. It sounds like a sense-making meeting to me from this description; one designed to help the group explore and understand the boundaries of the current state. Is that right? I’ve been working on a taxonomy of meeting types and am watching for use cases that may challenge the framework.

Any references you’d recommend (especially web-based) would be most appreciated.


(Simon) #12

Hi @Elise_Keith
Yes the difference between framing and kick-off is that kick-off cascades destination (vision) and asks “how” while framing shares context and asks about where to place boundaries.

I’d say both are sense making but the aims are quite different, the attendees and the decisions within the session also different. Carrying on this vein of thought the tool-kit and techniques for kick-off are well known - well easily found - I’m still amazed how many people don’t know how to hold an effective one. In contrast the techniques and tools of the framing session seem to me to be still little known and perhaps still being invented, defined and described. At least this is my experience in the corporate world.

From the wording of your question above I wonder if your thinking is based in what i’d call the supplier side of coping with change which is imho common. The framing session should be less about “understanding the boundaries” as creating the boundaries. Clearly any group discussing change has some constraints that have to be understood but understanding is often a symptom of stand-point - Rittel & wicked problems / Ackoff and mess management. Framing is thus about creating a description of the future by drawing a frame around open space. In that discussion the participants have to first share standpoints and the landscape visible from that viewpoint. The boundary exists after the session not before thus the “understand the boundaries” is only possible after framing has finished and their existence is passed on to others who in kick-off need to come to understanding.

My horizons where extended to the difference in the Oil and Gas industry. Since all majors use a life-cycle with common heritage it is possible to find references. I have some internal / commercial in confidence standards that I could share content from via less public channel if you’d like. They are on my home server and I’m taking a few days break until Tue. 24th
Best regards
Simon


(Elise Keith) #13

Ah, great. That makes sense and is familiar to me from the leadership literature on managing complexity, where boundaries are established within which the groups can then create multiple safe-to-fail experiments as they work to influence the system in a new direction.

I would love to learn how to best structure a framing session in this context, as I believe we’ll see more companies across industries moving to this more complex approach to change in the coming decade. Anything you feel comfortable sharing would be most appreciated, especially if it is something from which I could learn and extrapolate.


(Simon) #14

Hi

Back in the office after a week on a narrowboat – life at 3mph.

The paper I wrote was a ‘get some thoughts straight’ effort before drafting practitioner training materials – probably in Jan next year but maybe Dec. this year. I’ll keep you posted – maybe you’d critique the early draft?

If you’ve a private eMail I could use I’ll share the internal standard – on the understanding references are generic and anonymised.

Simon


(Christoph Haug) #15

You can send personal messages to one or more Kunsido members by clicking on their avatar and selecting “Message”. (The recipient(s) will receive a copy via email).