Methodological Awareness About Deming’s 14 Points of Continuous Improvement


Every minute somewhere, someone refers to Deming’s term SMART (ie, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based). Lesser known and frequently copied and modified we are now sharing his philosophy of continuous improvement. True to his words, Deming continually modified the wording of his 14 points of continuous improvement.

For quick, late-summer reading we are reminding you with our modified summary of the 14 points. You will discuss an excellent discussion of them in Chapter 2 of Out of the Crisis, by W. Edwards Deming, MIT Press, 2000; originally published in 1982.

A few are counter-intuitive but you decide. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Continuous Improvement Pays for Itself

Continuous Improvement Pays for Itself

  1. Provide for the long-range needs of the company; don’t focus on short-term profitability. The goal is to grow the business and add value.
  2. The world constantly changes, and managers need to adopt their way of thinking. Delays, mistakes, defective workmanship, and poor service are never acceptable.
  3. Quit depending on inspections to find defects, and build quality into products and processes as they are built. Use statistical process control to minimize biases.
  4. Do not choose suppliers on the basis of pricing (eg, low bids) alone. Minimize total cost by establishing long-term relationships with suppliers that are based on loyalty and trust.
  5. Work continually to improve customer delivery and service. Improvement is not a one-time effort; every activity in the process must be continually improved to reduce waste and improve quality.
  6. Institute training. Managers should know about modern leadership and be able to train workers to become future leaders. Managers also need training to understand the processes of production, delivery, and customer satisfaction.
  7. Institute leadership. Managers ought help people do a better job and remove barriers that keep them from doing their job with pride. The greatest waste in America is failure to use the abilities of people.
  8. Drive out fear. People need to feel secure in order to do their job well. There should never be a conflict between doing what is best for the company and meeting the expectations of their immediate job.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. Create cross-functional teams so everyone can understand the others’ perspective. Do not undermine team cooperation by rewarding individual performance.
  10. Stop using slogans, exhortations, and targets. It is the process, not the workers, that creates defects and lowers productivity. Exhortations don’t change the system; that is management’s responsibility.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for workers and numerical goals for people in management. Eliminate arbitrary deadlines for development teams that are management by fear. Embrace facilitative leadership.
  12. Eliminate barriers that rob people of their pride of workmanship. Stop treating hourly workers like a commodity. Eliminate annual performance ratings for salaried workers.
  13. Encourage education and self-improvement for everyone. An educated workforce and management will propel profits in the future.
  14. Take action to accomplish transformation. A top management team must lead the effort with action, not simply ‘support’ it.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Understand the Value of Argumentation for Organizational Decision-making


A strong facilitator will improve their critical thinking. They ought understand the holarchial nature of business and other people organized around common cause. Critical thinking helps structure discussions so that groups of people can get more done, faster.

In 1962, when Thomas Watson (CEO of IBM) was helping IBM reach their pinnacle, he said:

“I firmly believe that any organization, in order to survive and achieve success, must have a sound set of beliefs on which it premises all its policies and actions.  I believe that the most important single factor in corporate success is faithful adherence to those beliefs.  To meet the challenges of changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself except those beliefs as it moves through corporate life.”

He asserted that beliefs for IBM included (for illustrative purposes only):

  1.  Respect the individual.
  2.  Provide the best customer service of any company in the world.
  3.  Drive for superiority in all things.

While “beliefs” serves as a synonym for values or guiding principles, when answered coherently, the four questions below drive consistent decision-making from “the board room to the boiler room” (METZ).

  • Why are we here?  (Mission)
  • Who are we?   (Guiding Principles)
  • Where are we going?   (Vision)
  • What are the units of measurement to guide our progress?  (Goals, Objectives, and Considerations)

They should not be constructed simply because MBA textbooks say so.  Rather, they should be collaboratively built so that everyone in the organization can make appropriate trade-offs in daily decision-making.

Starting Points

Organizations, especially businesses, have developed elaborate processes around knowledge management. Among the spheres of knowledge are accepted facts, presumptions, assumptions, and probabilities (listed in order of general acceptance). Without starting points, argumentation is not possible. Conversely, the greater the shared starting points, the easier it is to galvanize consensus. Starting points are used as support for further claims, normally claims that associated with change and a call to action.

Argumentation Relies on Facts, Presumptions, Assumptions, and Probabilities

Argumentation Relies on Facts, Presumptions, Assumptions, and Probabilities

Facts

Facts may be generally construed as observations, calculations, evidence, and other empirical knowledge derived from observation or experience over which there is no controversy. For example, the evening sun sets in the west. Chocolate truffles are more expensive dirt. Yet acceptable facts will change from group to group.

Presumptions

With lesser certainty, presumptions are held as the basis for many claims. For example, children are less able to care for themselves than adults. Presumptions are subject to challenge and may be overthrown. Some people even begin their arguments with presumptions they know to be false, simply to get the conversation going. Presumptions are relied upon heavily in legal actions and frequently require additional ‘burden of proof.’ A key value of group decision-making is the ability for groups to more thoroughly challenge and disrupt unsound presumptions by providing facts or observations of times and places when the presumptions are false.

Assumptions

While a presumption represents something you think is generally true, but not always true, an assumption is something believed to be true, with less certainty than a presumption. The difference can be subtle. When you have certain set ideas about some things, they are also presumptions. Keep in mind that presumptions are more authoritative than assumptions.

An excellent comparison from The Write Source by Liz Bureman follows:

“For example, since I just watched The Hunger Games for the first time (the original, not the sequel) , I presumed that I would enjoy it. I had never seen the movie before (I know, I know, I’m way behind the times), but I have read the books, and I enjoyed them. Since I enjoyed the books, the presumption that I would enjoy the movie was an easy one to make.

However, I assume that the actors read the books before starting work on the film. I have no idea if Jennifer Lawrence actually read the trilogy before taking on the role of Katniss, although I’m sure a Google search could clear that up, but right now, that is a pure assumption, since I have no proof or knowledge that would lead me to think that would be the case.”

Probabilities

With lesser certainty, probabilities are assembled with a combination of facts, presumptions, and assumptions about some future condition. Such beliefs are frequently held, whether clear or not, during most arguments. Probabilities may even be assigned percentages and are reflected when you hear words such as “Likely”, “Almost certainly”, “Probably”, and “Maybe”.

Summary

Since many business arguments involve probabilities, an effective facilitator needs to make the thinking visible behind modifiers such as “likely”. Discover the conditions under which the probability is increased or decreased to get a group more rapidly accept the algorithm leading to the probability. Seek to have them articulate a range of possibilities rather than fixed numbers. Consider capturing three placeholders such as best case, worst case, and most likely. Always use your critical thinking to examine the basis of facts, presumptions, assumptions, and probabilities and help the group understand what components may cause their arguments to fortify or to become frail.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

How to Develop the Basis for a Successful Meeting or Workshop in Four Easy Steps


Purpose

This activity establishes the program purpose, project scope, session (ie, meeting or workshop) deliverables, and potential participants.

Develop the Basis in Four Easy Steps

Develop the Basis in Four Easy Steps

Method

Do the following:

  1. Write down your deliverable and strive to Get Examples! Deliverables illustrate the required documentation and needed information. What are we producing? Show participants examples if available. Compare with the enterprise strategic plan to help reconcile tradeoffs in the decision-making process.
  2. Quantify impact from the meeting on the program and articulate the project scope. Identify the level of detail desired, the type of session (planning, problem solving, design, etc.), and what to accomplish in the workshop. Understand what might be excluded (due to scope); or what the purpose and scope are NOT.
  3. Identify and compose the steps that enable you to organize the known information, identify the missing information, and produce the deliverables identified previously. Rely on your organization’s methodology or life cycle. The best sources for your draft method are (in order of preference):
    • Proprietary or in-house life cycle
    • Team charter, prior work, or FAST cookbook agendas
    • Experience—look at past successful workshops (or CoP; ie, community of practice), ask, “What questions need to be answered to satisfy the purpose of the workshop?” Consider the Single-Question tool approach.
    • Talk to the project manager, technical partner (ie, the methodologist), or other organizational experts.
    • Go to a library or bookstore but do NOT rely on Google®.

THE THREE STEPS ABOVE YIELD A STRAW MODEL OR SIMPLE MEETING OR WORKSHOP AGENDA.

For Lean or Agile also consider

– Existing enterprise systems or processes (life cycle)

– Architecture infrastructure (consider drafting a baseline architectural pattern)

– Scoping/ phasing (what high level information is known)

– Consider existing process models, high level ERD, and actors’ security/ policy

  1. Identify the most appropriate participants. Identify what knowledge or expertise each needs to bring to the workshop. Determine how much of the agenda the participants understand and can reasonably complete in a group environment. Identify what issues they have—do they need team building or creativity or some management of behavior? Find someone who will provide resistance at the meeting so that you can learn to anticipate challenges that will develop. You may not want to avoid the issues because they need to surface; however, you do not want to be surprised or caught off guard.

Walk through the steps to see if you can produce the desired results with the proposed participants. Do the steps allow the group to build on prior work without jumping around? Are the steps logical? Will the deliverables be comprehensive?

NOTE: Identify the known information at the start of the proposed workshop. Some information was probably built before this workshop. It may be output from prior workshops. It may be planning or scope documents. This information should only be reviewed and not built from scratch, if acceptable.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Appreciative Inquiry: How to create an evolutionary path to the future


Purpose

Organizations seeking to make a major change in HOW they work may consider using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to help evaluate viewpoints and create an evolutionary path to the future. AI leverages brainstorming, prioritizing, sub-teams, and various other tools we’ve discussed elsewhere, putting them in the context of “study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best.” (see Whitney, The Power of Appreciative Inquiry)

Explore the Possibilities

Explore the Possibilities

Method

The AI approach provides a detailed prescriptive path of information gathering and documentation. It requires training and mentoring to learn it and conduct it well. Consider the AI approach as a facilitator when you have been properly trained—and a far-reaching organizational change is sought. The four phases are known as the 4-D model. Once the scope has been isolated, or perhaps assumed as in the case of many non-governmental organizations (NGO), the phases include:

  1. Discovery—search and illuminate those factors that give life to the organization, the “best of what is” in any given situation.
  2. Dream—dream about what could be.
  3. Design—design the future through dialogue, finding common ground by sharing discoveries and possibilities and debating.
  4. Destiny—construct the future through innovation and action.

Comments

AI emphasizes an appreciative view of what has been true in the past (eg, successes, assets, etc) as a natural basis for fundamental change. It encourages a thorough, diligent, and open exploration of what could be true for the organization, once freed from judgment or prejudice.

This method values collaboration at the expense of command-control environments, making it highly amenable to technological change. Its workshops can span from two days to two weeks, or longer. They rely on most of the tools we have discussed in other blogs and on the FAST curriculum, but you are well advised to consider a professional who specializes in AI or can be made readily available as a mentor.

Appreciative inquiry recognizes that inquiry and change are occurring simultaneously. Inquiry catalyzes change—the things people think and talk about, the things people discover and learn, and the things that inform dialogue and inspire action—are implicit in the questions we ask. See authors Whitney and Watkins for additional reading.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

What Aristotle Might Say to Facilitators Who Cannot Remove Their Biases


Argumentation can be described as the SMart approach to persuasion. It combines appeals to logic, or the Scientific Method, along with an appreciation of artistic attributes that that make the appeals more persuasive and convincing. Specifically Aristotle discusses three drivers of persuasive success: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Good facilitators ought familiarize themselves with all three.

Ethos (Greek for ‘character’) captures a sense of credibility and refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the presenter. Ethos may be expressed through tone and style of message, transforming the speaker into an authority on the subject. It lends itself to the creation of reputation and exists independently from the message. The impact of ethos is often called an argument’s ‘ethical appeal’ or the ‘appeal from credibility.’  (Pre-Test)

Three Forms of Persuasion

Three Forms of Persuasion

Aristotle tells us that the appeal from ethos should not come from appearances, but from a person’s use of language. To improve one’s credibility, minimize or avoid using the first person singular “I” or “me.” Substitute the integrative “we” or “us” or refer to the collective and pluralistic “you.” Today, advertising relies much on ethos and takes the form of credible spokespeople, such as Michael Jordan selling underwear. The historical view holds that three characteristics help fortify ethos, all that should be embraced by a facilitator, namely:

  1. Good moral character,
  2. Good sense, and
  3. Goodwill

Logos (Greek for ‘word’) refers to the internal consistency and reasoning of the message—clarity of the claim, logic of its reasons, and effectiveness of supporting evidence. Presumably Aristotle’s favorite approach, ‘logos’ captures the logic used to support claims (induction and deduction) and will likely include supporting facts and statistics.

The impact of logos may be called an argument’s logical appeal.

A facilitator supports inductive logic by challenging participants for facts, evidence, and support and allowing them to develop a general conclusion. Or, you can facilitate deductive reasoning by challenging participants with a general proposition and then eliciting from them specific facts, evidence, and support.

Pathos (Greek for ‘suffering’ or ‘experience’) is frequently referred to as an emotional appeal but it also refers to an ‘appeal to the audience’s sympathies and imagination.’ The persuasive appeal of pathos facilitates participants’ sense of identity, their self-interests, and emotions. Many consider pathos the strongest of the appeals.

Be cautious as appeals to participants’ sense of identity and self-interest exploit common biases. They naturally bend in the direction of what is advantageous to them, what serves their interests or the interests of the groups to which they belong.

The three appeals above belong to some of the styles used to describe rhetoric, which we define as the “art of adjusting ideas to people, and people to ideas.” Fortify yourself with a deeper understanding of rhetoric and argumentation if you truly want to become a better facilitator.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiatives, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need to lead more effective groups, teams, and meetings.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

94 Different Types of Meeting Purposes Based on More than One Dozen Factors


While by no means ‘exhaustive’, we researched and assembled various meeting types from dozens of sources, too many to provide attribution for a brief blog (write us if you want more detail). We discovered it somewhat humorous that the world does not agree on the definition of a ‘type.’ We discovered meeting types are stratified by:

Illustration of the Author After Completing This Article

Illustration of the Author After Completing This Article

  • Audience (eg, shareholder vs. stakeholder)
  • Deliverable (output)
  • Location (onsite vs. offsite)
  • Meeting leader role (manager vs. facilitator)
  • Outcome (desired)
  • Resource (eg, production vs. project)
  • Rules (eg, open vs. private)
  • Size (quantity of participants and size of venue)
  • Style (eg, face to face vs. virtual)
  • Timing (variations included chronology, duration, frequency, and preparation time)
  • Topic (eg, financial review vs. party), and
  • Variants that probably us

Some sources provided context and justified their topology. We especially love the following comment because it is so definitive, albeit wrapped in truth (source-Seth Godin):

“There are three types of meetings. Meetings are marketing in real time with real people. (A conference is not a meeting. A conference is a chance for a circle of people to interact). There are only three kinds of classic meetings:

  1. This is a meeting where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it’s primarily designed to inform.
  2. This is a meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
  3. This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.”

—OR—

“While there are a variety of reasons for call group meeting (some of which have little to do with decision making or problem solving), for our purposes we will categorize decision-making meetings into one of the following.

  1. Strategy
  2. Problem solving
  3. Operational decisions
  4. Evaluation”

—OR—

“There are six types of meetings:

  1. Organizational meetings;
  2. Regular meetings;
  3. Special or emergency meetings;
  4. Work sessions;
  5. Public hearings; and
  6. Executive sessions.”

We did little to cleanup or edit the following and do not attempt to defend it, rather to share it. Where redundancies were obvious we combined some definitions. Some meeting types were provided without definition. Some types appear redundant, but due to rhetorical differences, we could not be certain if they were identical or not so we left them as discrete meeting types.

The 94 types of meetings we identified are as follows.

  1. Ad hoc Meetings: A meeting called for a special purpose. A good example of an ad-hoc meeting is a team of individuals chosen by the company to join a trade show and represent the company so a meeting is needed to discuss the important things and activities during the event.
  2. Board Meetings: If the meeting participants are solely board and directors members of the organization, definitely it is termed as board meeting.
  3. Brainstorming Meetings
  4. Breakout Meetings
  5. Business Meetings: With customers, clients, colleagues, etc.; often require presentations.
  6. Class Meetings
  7. Client Meetings: Some organizational teams start working on a new project and possibly a new client through a discussion.
  8. Collaborative Meetings: Some of your employees and managers may work closely with suppliers, customers or business partners on projects such as joint product development or supply chain improvements. Bringing external groups into meetings with your employees helps to strengthen business relationships and gives your employees a greater sense of customer focus.
  9. Combination Meetings: A type of meeting according to objective is called combination meeting wherein two or more of the meeting categories are applied in a single meeting session.
  10. Commitment Building Meetings
  11. Community Meetings: To interpret decisions, get input, build relationships, gain trust, etc.
  12. Conference Call Meetings
  13. Conferences: A highly structured, moderated meeting, like a presentation, where various participants contribute following a fixed agenda.
  14. Coordinating Meetings: To assure all know what’s happening when and who is responsible.
  15. Creative Meetings: To define new markets, create new products, etc.
  16. Discussions: A meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
  17. Emergency Meetings: A meeting called to address a crisis, whether internal or external. Such meetings are often arranged with very little notice. If the emergency meeting conflicts with another appointment, the emergency meeting typically takes precedence. If a serious problem, such as a fire or major financial loss occurs, it’s essential to inform the whole company so that all employees understand the implications and the changes that will occur. In the event of a serious fire, for example, employees may have to work in temporary accommodation with limited access to telephones and other resources. A major disaster or loss may lead to redundancies or even closure. By communicating openly in the meeting, you can reduce feelings of uncertainty in the workforce and avoid the risk of rumors spreading.
  18. Evaluation Meetings: Evaluation meetings are held to evaluate a new process, structural modification, new program, etc. The important issue is to establish a set of evaluative criteria based on the goals of the new program or process.
  19. Event Planning Meetings
  20. Executive Sessions: If allowed by charter, these meetings are closed to the public and press and generally are held for discussion of legal (litigation, advice from counsel, etc.), personnel, or other confidential matters. There are very specific legal provisions for closing the meeting such as recording the vote of council members who authorized the meeting and recording the circumstances of the meeting in the official minutes of the municipality. Executive meetings should be held only in accordance with the strict mandates of the Open Meetings Act.
  21. Family Meetings
  22. Feedback Meetings: Feedback meetings are conducted when the purpose is to let individuals provide reactions and feedback to one or several participants on a certain presentation or project.
  23. Feedforward Meetings: When there is a need to make status reports and present new information, participants gather for a feedforward meeting. It is otherwise known as reporting and presenting.
  24. Financial Review (or Update) Meetings
  25. Holiday Meetings
  26. Information Sharing Meetings: Where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it is primarily designed to inform.
  27. Interdepartmental Meetings: To get input, interpret decisions and policies, share info, etc.
  28. Introduction Meetings
  29. Investigative Meetings: Generally when conducting a pre-interview, exit interview or a meeting among the investigator and representative
  30. Investor Meetings
  31. Keynote Speeches
  32. Kickoff (or First) Meetings: The first meeting with the project team and the client of the project to discuss the role of each team member. This initial gathering is called a kick-off meeting. It is also during this time wherein members are assigned individual tasks on the project.
  33. Large Conference Meetings
  34. Leadership Meetings
  35. Management Meetings: A conference among managers and supervisors is called a management meeting. If the meeting participants are solely board and directors members of the organization, definitely it is termed as board meeting.
  36. Manager Meetings
  37. Meetings to Plan Bigger Meetings
  38. New Business Pitch Meetings
  39. New Product Launch Meetings
  40. Off-site Meetings: Also called “offsite retreat” and known as an meeting in the UK.
  41. One-on-one Meetings: A meeting is not necessarily composed of a group of individuals. A discussion of two individuals is called a one-on-one meeting. Your boss may sometimes conduct a one-on-one meeting with you and the other employees individually to talk about your performance appraisal.
  42. Online Meetings
  43. Open Meetings: Best used for internal team collaborations. No designated host needed. Anyone start meetings at any time.
  44. Operational Decision Meetings: Make decisions such as staffing, purchase, or work method decision. The issue here is the establishment of set of criteria (derived from the goal of the decision and claimant issues) by which to evaluate alternatives.
  45. Organizational Meetings: Usually very soon after each election, a meeting may be necessary to establish the procedures concerning conduct of council meetings. Local practices may vary, but generally the meeting should establish: regular dates, times, and locations for routine council meetings; rules of procedure for conducting business at meetings (Robert’s Rules, etc.); and assignment of council member duties (i.e., mayor pro tempore, committee chairpersons, etc.). Many municipalities adopt and publish a schedule of meeting dates for an entire year, while charter sets others.
  46. Party Meetings
  47. Permission Meetings: This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.
  48. Pitch Meetings
  49. Planning Meetings: If certain structuring and future resolutions need to be made, a planning meeting can be called.
  50. Political Meetings
  51. Pre-Bid Meetings: A meeting of various competitors and or contractors to visually inspect a jobsite for a future project. The future customer or engineer who wrote the project specification to ensure all bidders are aware of the details and services expected of them normally hosts the meeting. Attendance at the Pre-Bid Meeting may be mandatory. Failure to attend usually results in a rejected bid.
  52. Presentation Meetings: A highly structured meeting where one or more people speak and a moderator leads the proceedings. The purpose is usually to inform. Attendees may have an opportunity to ask questions, but typically their participation is limited.
  53. Private Meetings: Used for managed meetings, where the host has control. Meeting starts when host opens meeting. Host controls who can or cannot enter live meeting and host controls role delegation.
  54. Problem-Solving Meetings: When a specific problem emerges, usually manifesting itself in the form of some type of response from a dissatisfied stakeholder or claimant, a problem-solving meeting is held. These meeting take one of two general forms.
    1. Solve the immediate problem—the focus of this type of meeting is to determine how to satisfy the immediate concerns of the dissatisfied stakeholder. For example, if a specific customer has received a batch of defective parts, the issue might be, How to we get non-defective parts to this customer?
    2. Solve the long-range problem—the focus of this type of meeting is to reduce the likelihood of a given type of problem surfacing in the future, by diagnosing the cause(s) of this recurring problem and developing a solution consistent with these causes that solves the problem. In the above example, the problem might be defining as, How do we reduce the likelihood of defective parts being produced.
  55. Production Meetings
  56. Project Meetings: Project meetings bring together people from different departments working on a specific task, such as new product development or business reorganization. Project meetings take a number of different forms, including planning and progress meetings, brainstorming sessions, or design and review meetings.
  57. Project Planning Meetings
  58. Public Hearings: The council holds public hearings when it is considering a subject having unusually high community impact and when it is considering items for which local, state, or federal regulations mandate such hearings. The main purpose of such a hearing is to obtain testimony from the public. An issue on which a public hearing is held may be the subject of several work sessions and may generate potentially more citizen participation than can be accommodated at a regular meeting with its other normal business items. An additional meeting of the council for a public hearing can be valuable in providing the public an opportunity to learn the current status of a project and give the council, as the public policy makers, clear indications of public sentiment before making a decision. Additional work sessions at a subsequent meeting generally follow the public hearing before final council action on the matter at a regular hearing.
  59. Public Relations Meetings
  60. Quick Business Meetings: To check-in, coordinate, share info, prepare for next steps, anticipate customer or employee needs, answer questions for each other, etc.
  61. Regular Meetings: This is the official, final public action meeting. It is the only meeting where the council may adopt ordinances or regulations. One very important feature of the regular meeting is the public forum aspect. The regular meeting generally includes at least a citizen comment period and often incorporates a formal public hearing on one or more subjects. While allowing public comment to some degree, the regular meeting always allows the public an opportunity to hear the council discussion on each subject.
  62. Religious Meetings
  63. Report Meetings
  64. Research Review Meetings
  65. Sales Conference: A sales conference is an important communication and motivational tool. Sales representatives spend the majority of their time away from the office, often working alone. Holding a sales conference brings your sales team together with other members of the company who affect their success, such as marketing staff, product specialists and senior managers. You can use the conference to launch important initiatives such as a new product announcement or a major advertising campaign, as well as communicating your company’s plans for the next quarter or the next financial year.
  66. Sales Meetings
  67. School Meetings
  68. Seminar: A structured meeting with an educational purpose. Seminars are usually led by people with expertise in the subject matter.
  69. Shareholder Meetings
  70. Skills Building Meetings
  71. Small Conference Meetings
  72. Special Meetings: Regular meetings are scheduled in advance (usually one or two per month) to allow the public, press, and persons having business for the council to attend the meetings. However, special situations may require convening a special meeting often with little, if any, advance notice. Examples of special meeting items include, but are not limited to: emergency ordinances, unexpected matters requiring official action before the next regularly scheduled meeting, emergency equipment replacement, financial problems, and health and safety emergencies. While the occasional need for such meetings cannot be denied, the term “emergency” should be used very carefully to avoid abuse of the special meeting.
  73. Sports Meetings (and Events)
  74. Staff Meetings: Typically a meeting between a manager and those that report to the manager. Staff meetings enable you to keep employees informed on issues that affect their work. Your managers or supervisors hold regular departmental meetings to update employees on progress or deal with any issues affecting their department. If there is a major policy change or other issue that affects the whole company, you may prefer to hold a meeting of all employees to explain the change.
  75. Stakeholder Meetings
  76. Stand-up Meetings: A meeting with attendees physically standing. The discomfort of standing for long periods helps to keep the meetings short, (no more than 10 minutes to plan the day, make announcements, set expectations, assure understanding and alignment, identify upcoming difficulties, etc.).
  77. Standing Meetings: A regularly scheduled appointment, such as a weekly one-on-one with a boss or a department; or a project meeting taking place at intervals until the project is over. Since these meetings recur, their format and agenda become relatively well established. Although it’s important to hold these meetings at routine intervals for convenience and consistency, at times they can be rescheduled.
  78. Status Meetings: A meeting that is leader-led and is done through a one-way communication reporting is called a status meeting.
  79. Strategy Building Meetings: Strategy or planning meetings are called to determine the future direction of the organization or unit. Generally the issues of the mission and current strategies for achieving it are discussed.
  80. Strategy Review Meetings: Using tools like the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) model; the current direction of the organization is assessed. If it is discovered that changes in the environment render the current mission and/or strategy inappropriate, a new strategic plan is developed.
  81. Strategy Testing and Adapting Meetings
  82. Task-Related Meetings: Task-related meetings usetheknowledgeandexperienceofgroupmemberstoaccomplish a work task, such as problem-solving, decision-making, fact-finding, planning, etc. These meetings are highly interactive, and involve two-way communication between all participants. Task-related meetings also tend to fall apart more quickly with poor meeting management. The two variations include:
    1. Directed—the leader runs the meeting and controls the agenda. These are the most common types of meetings.
    2. Facilitated—an impartial facilitator runs the meeting and controls the agenda and technique. These are the least common, but are growing in use, as they are the most effective for decision-making and building.
  83. Team Meetings: A meeting among colleagues working on various aspects of a team project.
  84. Termination Meetings
  85. Topical Meetings: A gathering called to discuss one subject, such as a work issue or a task related to a project.
  86. Training Session Meetings
  87. Trip Planning Meetings
  88. Twelve Step Meetings
  89. Update Meetings
  90. Webinar Meetings: For presentations, trainings and town hall meetings. Meeting starts when host opens meeting and attendees are muted upon entry. Host controls host delegation.
  91. Work Meetings: To produce a product or intangible result such as a decision.
  92. Work Sessions (workshops): These are the most common meetings in most municipalities. Work sessions are essentially “shirt-sleeves” meetings where the council discusses issues informally to achieve more complete understanding of one or more subjects. Many work sessions are held in another room away from the formal council chamber with a “round-table” type seating arrangement to promote informal discussion. These sessions take many forms and cover virtually any subject matter. Typical work sessions will include a variety of items and will generally serve as a background discussion about items scheduled for official action at the next regular meeting.
  93. Year Beginning Meetings
  94. Year End Meetings

Much is left to wonder . . . but after this exhausting effort, we would prefer a holiday, party, or sports meeting.  Why do you conduct and attend meetings (please check all that apply):

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Core Competency: Planning Intends to Change Minds, Not Simply Make Plans


Facilitating a planning session makes you a change agent. Even President Eisenhower (then General) was known to say, “ In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” While an effective facilitator keeps their group focused on the meeting output (ie, deliverable), the real work begins when the meeting is over, because what we really plan for are new outcomes.

What President Eisenhower was suggesting is that three-ring binders may sit on a shelf and gather dust, but the key deliverable from planning sessions occurs in the fifteen cm (six inches) between our ears.

To change (as a verb) can mean a lot of things including, among others, to:

From Planning to Rewards

From Planning to Rewards

  • Adapt
  • Adjust
  • Alter
  • Amend
  • Differentiate
  • Doctor
  • Evolve
  • Innovate
  • Modify
  • Productize
  • Redesign
  • Refine
  • Remodel
  • Reorder
  • Reorganize
  • Reshape
  • Restyle
  • Revamp
  • Revise
  • Transfigure
  • Transform
  • Tweak
  • Vary

Every one of us has been involved in change, and if you are reading this, you are probably involved in a change effort right now. Congratulations, the ability to lead a group of people to change, agree, and take ownership and maintenance of the future state represents tremendous success for the session leader who got them there.

Groups that are proactive in their approach to change make more money than those who simply react. Many studies point to innovation as the modern driver of profitability. As a core competency, groups who become adept at change, which can convert their creativity into profit (innovation defined), learn the value of effective facilitation. The facilitator, remaining unbiased and neutral about HOW TO change, serves as the primary catalyst and accelerator of change, corporate learning, and financial growth.

The more we mature in the role, the more we understand that corporate reality is subjective and decisions are driven by the perception of reality, from each person. Therefore we embrace learning to ‘homogenize’ our separate realities into our common, objective reality—that is unfortunately accepted by everyone but owned by no one. As context experts, our role during meetings gets people closer to shared understanding, to acceptance of what is truly objective, and to own their commitments and consequences when our meetings conclude. When performed seamlessly, our role helps individuals that help groups that help organizations to exceed their goals and maximize their financial rewards. And to think, it all started with a planning meeting.

In the words of Giuseppe di Lampedusa in The Leopard, even: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Understanding the Time and Place for Individual Versus Group Decisions


The continuum of leadership behavior provides one context for understanding the best time and place to make individual decisions contrasted with making group decisions. That continuum, as illustrated below, ranges from the completely subordinate-centered approach to the completely leader-centered approach. In between these extremes are another four types that blend or offset the “center” perspective.

Range of Meeting Leadership Styles

Range of Meeting Leadership Styles

Both approaches can provide value, while specific advantages depend on some of the factors discussed below. Frequently, advantages of group decision making include:

  1. Improved quality of decisions, proven over and over because of contributing factors such as . . .
    • Ability to generate more ideas and options
    • Self-monitoring that forces participants to keep each other honest
    • Fewer errors in using information that is available
    • Availability of more information
    • Reduction of potential individual bias
    • Willingness to manage higher levels of risk
  2. Increases ownership through higher levels of understanding, acceptance, and likelihood to make necessary adaptations during implementation.
  3. Participating individuals are strengthened, learn more, and can more readily re-apply the same rationale when they are making subsequent individual decisions.

There are some downside considerations as well including:

  1. Potential to take more time
  2. May create or heighten expectations, perhaps making them unobtainable
  3. Could be at variance with management or senior staff
  4. Quality of the output or decision might be hampered if the group is dominated by an individual(s), submits to forced selection or voting (leading to “losers” and consequent abandonment of ownership), or congeals into what Janis (1972) describes as “Groupthink.”

Groupthink describes a state or condition when the group regresses into poor thinking and social pressures. Janis claims that three factors increase the likelihood of groupthink, namely: insulation from qualified outsiders, leaders who promote their favorite position, and strong cohesion. You may be witnessing groupthink if you observe some of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive optimism and illusion of invulnerability
  • Tendency to dismiss contrary points of view accompanied with collective efforts to rationalize their own position or discount the positions of others
  • Unquestioned beliefs in the group’s supposed moral superiority and ignoring the consequences of their decision(s)
  • Prejudicial comments and stereotyping outsiders not in the meeting
  • Audible and non-verbal pressure on participants to conform
  • Censorship of deviations from what has congealed to be ‘consensus’

Research shows however, that decision by consensus tends to result in higher quality decisions than command-control, manipulation, persuasion, voting and other means of compromise.

What is Consensus?

Consensus must be carefully defined. A robust method will make full use of all the resources in the group, can be relied on for acceptable ways to reconcile conflict, and will generate the ownership a group needs to ensure that what goes on in the meeting is carried out after the meeting has concluded. We highly recommend that ‘consensus’ DOES NOT mean we are making everyone happy. Rather, we are striving for a common acceptance and level of understanding that would include ‘yes’ answers by all participants to the following questions:

  1. Can you live with this (decision/ plan/ output/ outcome, etc.)?
  2. Will you support it professionally and not subvert it when the meeting concludes?
  3. Will you personally lose any sleep over it?

Resulting in Synergy

We could define synergy as the increased effectiveness of working together where the outcome becomes greater than the sum of the parts. We are seeking an answer that did not walk into the meeting, rather it can be created during the meeting. For a meeting with nine people for example, we are looking for the tenth answer. Synergy frequently results among groups that are seeking consensus, built around a common goal. When supported by strong facilitation, participants agree on a clear and common goal (typically the meeting deliverable), share openly, listen carefully, think clearly, and they are likely to achieve synergy.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

What Important Key is Missing from Most Group Approaches to Problem Solving?


A lot of wise, published, and acclaimed authors simply do not ‘get it.’ Presumably, most spend time in classroom environments and doing research, but less frequently do they practice what they preach. If they did, we would not discover such an essential aspect missing from their many espoused approaches to group problem solving. Notice the traditional approach calls for steps that are quite similar to the following:

Something is Missing Here

Something is Missing Here

  1. Problem identification
  2. Problem diagnosis
  3. Solution generation
  4. Solution evaluation
  5. Choice

What is missing from this approach, that must appear transparent to most writers, but is not, captures a sense of Purpose behind the solution—what are we trying to accomplish. Using a simple example in our private lives, we may identify (1) the need for new underwear, realizing that the existing choices remain sub-optimal (2). Therefore we go to the store where we find various packs on the shelves (3). Given the price, size, style, color, quantity, brand, etc. (4) we make our choice (5).

However, our choice is hugely dependent on the purpose of the underwear. Are they for everyday use, formal wear, athletic wear, etc.? Our purpose will strongly influence our choice, but Purpose is frequently omitted from most group approaches. Seemingly, the authors lack experience in real meetings to see how important it is to build consensus around WHY we are doing something before we discuss WHAT we should do (and eventually HOW it will be done).

Conflict

We have frequently seen meetings begin to unravel until we re-directed the group back to the purpose. Without consensually agreed upon purpose, there is no common ground for appeal to reconcile arguments and necessary trade-offs.

From an academic perspective, various methods have been described to resolve meeting conflict, such as:

  • Compromise (lose-lose)
  • Forcing (voting, or win-lose)
  • Integrative (win-win)
  • Smoothing
  • Withdrawal

Our entire curriculum is devoted exclusively to discovering an integrative, win-win solution. Each of the methods above yield different consequences measured by . . .

  • Solution acceptance
  • Solution quality
  • Team or group maintenance (or ownership)

Follow the guidelines suggested by our FAST facilitative leadership curriculum and you will discover that ownership begins with common purpose. If you fail to facilitate agreement about purpose before you tackle the problem, you risk solution acceptance, solution quality, and team maintenance that are essential components to any solid approach that claims to be a valid group problem solving method.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual” for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Smart People Make Dumb Decisions: How To Improve Your Group Decisions


According to experts in an emerging field called the Science of Choice, everyone can learn to make higher quality decisions. First understand the primary cause of poor individual decisions—overconfidence. Then realize that one of the reasons that groups make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group is the ability to force participants to think outside of their normal comfort zone.

Natural decision making for individuals relies on an “inside view”. Not surprisingly, we call our meeting participants “subject matter experts” because their inside view is also known as the subjective view. For example, two people eating from the same bowl of chili may arrive at different conclusions. One may find the chili excessively ‘hot” (as in spicy) and the other, not. Both are correct from their subjective points of view, so how do we as facilitators “objectify” their assessment?

Participants, especially when focused on specific situations, tend to use information that is cheap; ie, costs little in terms of time to access and out of pocket costs. They make their judgments and predictions based on a narrow set of inputs. Perhaps, for example, there was only one habanero pepper in the chili, and it ended up in only one of the bowls. Participants do not consider the full range of possibilities. Frequently in planning modes, people paint a “too optimistic” view of the future, largely due to overconfidence.

Overconfidence is central to the inside view and leads to at least two illusions that can dramatically lower the quality of decisions:

Smart People Make Dumb Decisions

Smart People Make Dumb Decisions

  1. Illusion of Control
  2. Illusion of Superiority

Illusion of Control

People behave as if chance events are subject to their influence. Simply stated, people who believe that they have some control over the situation perceive their “odds of success” are higher, even when they are not. Numerous studies have proven the illusion of control, typically using random chance such as the throw of the dice. Money managers for example behave as if they can beat the market when in fact; very few outperform the major indices.

Illusion of Superiority

Most people consider themselves ‘above average’ drivers. Likewise most professionals place themselves in the top half of performers. Clearly, these judgments are absurd, as at least half of all drivers ought be discovered to be ‘below average.’ Likewise for professionals, as people maintain an unrealistically positive view of themselves, not everyone can be above average. In fact, according to one large study, more than 80 percent of those surveyed considered themselves above average. Remarkably, and scary too, the least-capable people often have the largest gaps between their perception and reality. Those in the bottom quartile of various studies dramatically overstate their abilities, and nearly everyone tends to dismiss their shortcomings as inconsequential.

What is the Solution?

Various researchers have discovered that building consensus provides the best way to overcome individual biases. When building consensus, an outside view is brought into the decision making process that improves on the quality of individual decisions. Here is a methodological approach for facilitators:

  1. Find a Surrogate (Diverge): Ask the group to identify similar situations, comparable industries, significant competitors, or even stir up the group by adding participants with competing points of view.
  2. Assess the Distribution of Potential Outcomes (Analyze): Treat the decision as conditional rather than fixed. Under what conditions might Decision A be more appropriate than Decision B, etc?
  3. Base decisions, especially predictions, on ranges of outcomes and probabilities, and not a fixed set. (Converge): Consider scenario planning and build at least three decisions; perhaps the sunny, cloudy, and stormy perspectives. Study the outcomes including the most common, the average, and check the extremes to help influence a group to consider an ‘outside view.’
  4. Calibrate the decision or prediction as necessary (Document): Remember the biases discussed earlier, as there remains likelihood that the justification of views may remain too optimistic and overconfident. Interesting research within the National Football League (NFL) about counter intuitive decisions such as going for it on fourth down, two point conversions, onside kicks and the like shows that coaches that are willing to break from tradition are more successful by generating more points and victories than those who play it safe.

Let us know what you think by commenting below. For additional methodology and team-based meeting support for your change initiative, refer to “Change or Die, a Business Process Improvement Manual”  for much of the support you might need.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation Skills

The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership-training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).

Do not forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

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