Who’s it for: Anyone interested in having more productive meetings.
What’s it for: Helping generate better outcomes from meetings.
In my previous blog post 'It's time to stop celebrating crazy at work' I shared the outcomes of our recent book review project which explored what we can all do to ensure the workplace is calm, productive and fulfilling for everyone.
I’ve outlined the process adopted for the project below, but first I want to focus on an essential stage of the process: ‘The Reflective Script’.
The norm for businesses today is to gather a select team to discuss and resolve a business challenge. All too often these meetings are arranged, and participants have little or no chance to carefully inform and consider their opinion on the matter at hand before the meeting; the consequence is that not all viewpoints are heard as they’re not expressed rationally or coherently. This often results in little progress being made as not everyone's perspective has been adequately considered.
In tackling such a ‘hot work’ topic (work life balance), we used the external perspective of the book ‘It doesn’t have to be crazy at work’ to help us all focus on the topic. We each read the book and wrote an actionable summary; not a list of quotes or bullet points but a well-considered report detailing what we found helpful, practical, inspiring regarding the matter at hand. We each shared what ideas we thought we could/should implement and which we thought wouldn’t work for us and why.
Once we’d all published our personal review (using Discourse) we then read the reports submitted by the others involved (in this case it was 7 others) and we added comments to their observations. Importantly these were not challenges nor judgements they were constructive comments encouraging others to explain their viewpoint further or to simply say thanks for opening their eyes to an alternative viewpoint or experience. Once this review stage was complete we then each wrote a ‘Reflective Script’.
This final stage gave us all the chance to review our original viewpoints and to reconsider our assumptions, judgements and recommendations based on what we now know/believe thanks to everyone else's views and findings. What do we now realise that we didn’t initially?
This stage opened our eyes to others’ perspectives. This meant that when we sat down face to face, we better appreciated the many different viewpoints we needed to consider to create a calmer workplace.
The result we were able to focus our 90 minutes meeting on making decisions; decisions which would help create the best outcome for the business rather than individuals.
The ‘book review’ project and the empathy it created ultimately enabled all of us to participate in creating better.
BOOK REVIEW PROCESS
We bought 8 copies of the book and using the AltMBA format we each read the book and then formulated our thoughts, observations and opinions on the subject. This process helped us each to better empathise with one another's’ experience and viewpoints on the matter. It will also help ensure we were better prepared for a session to help create ‘Better* (Better is one of our Team Codes - a never-ending practice)' in 2019.
Part One: Read the book & write an actionable summary of the book. Not a list of quotes or bullet points but a well-considered report detailing what we found helpful, practical, inspiring. What ideas do we think we could/should implement and which perhaps we believe won’t work and why?
Part Two: Review & Comment Reading one another's’ point of view, understanding assertions and contributing insightful commentary are essential to gaining empathy as we discover the multiple perspectives on the same situation. This helped us all to see a bigger picture and to inform better the problem we wished to address. Commenting on each others review is about reflection, not criticism. Generous scepticism was welcomed as was support of others assertions. There was no right or wrong we sought to develop empathy and explore a topic together.
Part Three: Reflective Script The reflection script (RS) was the most essential part as it leveraged everything that came before it. For this, we appended our original review with an RS of what we now thought we could/should do.
Part Four: Face to Face Meeting Following the book review we all met to discuss the process and the outputs. A face to face meeting to identify quick wins we could/should implement with immediate effect.