Meeting Effectiveness: "READY, BREAK!" • MJVacanti - Inspire
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Meeting Effectiveness: “READY, BREAK!”

Meeting Effectiveness: “READY, BREAK!”

I love that we are now in an “agile-method” world, so the lingo is “huddle” although in many cases, it is the same old meeting. I remember the first day walking into the weekly review meeting as the new group leader for a large team. “All-hands on deck” with some teams/people remote and the conference room in that ‘lucky’ host-market was packed full. I was pretty excited – time to dive in, observe, get introduced and start doing my thing.

Suddenly I had this ‘virtual jaw drop’ feeling. It was like oxygen was sucked out of the room and everyone started wobbling and falling into a dead-spin. I smiled, slowed my breathing to acclimate, and observed this time tested ‘ritual.’ I was certainly the only one smiling! About 20 minutes into the 90 minute “huddle,” my smile turned to a subtle chuckle — “I can fix this” my inner-voice kept repeating. The result of the 90 minutes was nil. Everyone basically read their activity and pursuit logs to the “leadership” team (logs which were/or should have been in CRM). It all ended with a directive to improve results this week, and then everyone went about their day. It was pure, low-value dread for the group and I am very certain that the remote teams/people took part in the funny actions captured in the info graph below via @VentureBeat:  Yes, it says that 47% go to the bathroom.During the short few weeks after this impression, I pitched ‘rhythm’ and ‘drum-beat’ proposals to the exec team and in the end was told to leave the meeting alone and focus on making the adjustments with my team. So, we fixed our stuff, but still had to waste this all-up meeting time each week. The result of making changes within my team were crazy successful – doubling revenue in the first year. Of course there was other ‘goodness’ applied to achieve these results, but the meeting fix was a huge part.

The reason fixing the huddle had such an impact is really simple: They were quick, empowering, interactive and energized. The football huddle metaphor is right on. You bust your ass all week to prepare for game-day. Revved up, you take the field, game starts, offense and defense ‘huddle’ to call the play and then “BREAK,” running up to the line to execute and compete in pursuit of all out success. Now imagine if the huddle was the best part of a game – can you see a player saying, “no, don’t break yet, I love the huddle.” Meetings, in contrast to the huddle, tend to be the purpose, not the prep. More often people are defused in a meeting then energized. If someone clapped their hands and yelled ‘break’ at the end, some would wake up, others attending virtually could finish their breakfast in peace, but likely no one would run out of the room ready to tackle the next task or score a ‘touchdown’ for their clients. But they could!

Here are the simple yet powerful basic tenets for a great huddle:

  1. Get a clear list of immediate needs and actions from the team. Don’t hand them a report or data sheet and ask them to read it to you (this is the heart of effective tools/reporting).
  2. Make sure those listed items have an owner and outcome. Simple measures!
  3. Crystalize barriers to forward movement and commit to actions.
  4. Prioritize and commit. Time is the finite resource, so get focused on the right stuff. Again, FOCUS!
  5. Get a sense of humor. If it isn’t any fun, something is missing.

Yes, it is simple. Lighten up – focus – commit – solve – agree – commit.

Ready? Then BREAK – Lets go get it.

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