November 19, 2015 Leave a comment
Do you want more meetings? Of course not. Nobody wants more meetings and yet many of us find ourselves in meetings a few dozen hours per week (or more). Why do we meet so frequently since seldom do we actually remove stuff from our “To-Do” list during a meeting? On the contrary, each meeting normally leads to more work.
Likewise, your meeting participants do not want any more work, and verbs are work. We perform verbs so that our activities yield results, frequently called objects (hence the term objective), also known as nouns.
Terms like “identify” and “define” add no value to a simple agenda, except to the facilitator who needs to lead the method for delivering up results at the end of each agenda step. Save the verbs for yourself. Put them on your annotated agenda (ie, play script for you only), but spare your participants of the need for more work. Most participants seek less work, not more.
Likewise, a meeting deliverable should not include verbs, again it should be viewed as an object. We typically organize ourselves and activities around nouns, not verbs. We all perform the same verbs, such as Plan>Acquire>Operate>Control or Plan>Do>Check>Act (Deming). Take a look at our business organizations. People are organized around things, such as treasury (Finance), legal issues (Legal), human capital (Human Resources), products (Product Management), customers (Sales and Marketing), etc. Most everyone in those various departments are performing the same verbs, they are simply adding value to a different resource or object.
Therefore, get your participants focused on “what DONE looks like.” Begin with the meeting deliverable, and the describe the object you have in your hands when a successful meeting is complete. Do the same for each step in your agenda, so that everyone stays focused on the end in mind. Embrace the modifications shown below in your simple agenda, and put the verb stuff in your annotated agenda along with greater detail about your break-out sessions, CEOs (ie, Chief Easel Officer), questions for them to answer, and your method(s) of analysis that will build consensual understanding and agreement.
Most people include verbs (see example on the left) to remind them what to do as facilitator. Most of the instructions are devoid of the painstaking detail required to keep groups at a high performance level. If, as a participant, you have a high level of confidence that your facilitator knows what they are doing, most assuredly you would rather participate with the agenda on the right because it’s simple and each step denotes chunks of progress—objects that have been created, not work that is forthcoming.
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 Solution—Improve 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.