Leading a meeting for the purposes of building a team (on top of achieving some business goals) may include a dose of ineffectiveness. It would be easier to be efficient, get on with things and let the ones who participate do just that, participate, allowing some silences, some nodding, and the reserved look of the more introverted. More inefficient is to ‘waste time’ to ‘engineer the time’ so that everybody participates. But, if you do so, eventually, and progressively, over a period of time, team meeting air time will be divided pretty much in equal parts between participants. This is the trick. Then, you’ll have created a safe place.
But you may have to orchestrate that. The wrong way: ‘Now, the ones we have not heard from, please speak up…’. And half of the room is now in the spotlight, with nowhere to hide.
The right way: ‘What do you think of this Mary, from your perspective as late newcomer to the team?’. Then, similar question to Peter. And John.
The first time you ask, it looks like politeness; second time it feels I am actually expected to contribute; third time, I am prepared, if still a bit embarrassed; fourth time, everybody does it, it’s actually pretty safe, this seems pretty egalitarian. Then you have a protected space.
Team building? Build your team with this simple rule. Distributed airtime for voices, spontaneous or engineered is a simple rule to create safe collaborative environments. I repeat, you may need to engineer this for a while.
Avoid a meeting with ‘audiences’: nobody at the back listening. Forget the ‘we bring Mary as a development opportunity’. If Mary needs a development opportunity, surely it must be beyond improving her hearing.
Declare all meetings as ‘hands on deck meetings’. Create a safe environment not by declaring it safe, but by proving that, day after day, it is safe because everybody is participating. And everybody is participating not because you inherited the colleagues with the most participative DNA, but because 3 months ago you started asking questions one by one: what do you think of this Mary, from your perspective as late newcomer to the team?’; John, I wonder if you would agree with this? Peter, could you think of a reason why this couldn’t work?
If you call these facilitation skills, I don’t mind. I call it social engineering with all minds and hearts put to use. I am more utilitarian than you.
Big impact with small changes within your reach. A process to think the unthinkable and achieve the unexpected, and all could be done tomorrow.
Management has its own possible disruptive ways.
In my book, Disruptive ideas, I define these ideas as those which ‘provide management alternatives that, if spread, can completely transform the way the organization works without the need for a massive change management programme’.
Each of them in its own right has the potential to create significant change, but the compound benefit of a few of them is a real engine of change and business transformation. These Disruptive Ideas are simple, have a total disproportion between their simplicity and the significant impact in the life of organizations, can be implemented immediately, usually have zero cost or are cheap to implement, are most likely to be contrarian and counterintuitive, have some risk of being trivialised or dismissed and can spread virally very easily’ These Disruptive Ideas are like controlled injections of challenge to the default positions of organizations. Amongst other things they question ‘the ways things have always being done’.
A Structured Way to Inject Disruptive Management Innovation
Here at The Chalfont Project we run a Disruptive Ideas programme devised to challenge you, your management team, functional team, division…, to adopt many ‘impossible changes’ and to use the process to build a critical and healthier team. A total of 30 ‘ideas’ are dissected by your team(s) and your team members learn to assess them on their own merits, imagining the impact for the organization. We will create a process of critical thinking around the various ideas and a mechanism to challenge assumptions about their positive or negative merits. The outcome is a small set of chosen ideas with the potential to create high impact immediately, and a clear plan of commitment and accountability. This is an immersive crash course in management innovation and a powerful team building and renewal plan. You may or may not need us beyond the initial intervention in order to help implement the changes and track their impact.