I think that a default setting for a lot of organizations has been to gather people for meetings because that is simply what we have always done. It may not be the best way of doing things, but it is a tradition. The current pandemic has offered the lens of questioning many business traditions of what was normal. Do not get me wrong, I believe that it is invaluable to bring people together. I do have a bias about the “why” though.
If we are gathering folks to just share information, or speak to them through words and/or PowerPoint, then I think we are missing a huge opportunity. If we are only talking to them, then we are limiting the richness of having them with us. If it can be read, maybe it is best to send it as a report. I believe that one of the best reasons why we bring people together is to engage them in the dialogue. It is in those conversations that folks are allowed to be whole and motivated human beings.
If your folks are at a meeting with you and you are not engaging with them in dialogue, then you are not being the best steward of your people. They have thoughts, feelings and ideas about everything that is going on in your organization. They want to share all of this. As a facilitative leader, you can facilitate this collective wisdom to emerge into engagement, passion, and innovation, or you can let it lie fallow. So, if this is true, why not be the good steward and let the passion and innovation loose? I believe the major obstacle is knowing how to do so.
There is so much that can be done with our processes that honor the emergence of whole and motivated human beings. Command and control methods ask us to check too much of ourselves at the door. What is left is not creative, inspiring and certainly not sustainable for the vitality we all deserve. There are a multitude of collaborative methodologies and processes that facilitate the best of our folks to emerge in any and all conversations. Let me give you a quick example.
I was facilitating a five year strategic process for a cardiovascular service line that was bringing the expanded team and stakeholders together for a celebratory and capstone meeting. They were aware of the need to communicate this plan, with the seven key strategies, throughout the organization. The question was how. So, I suggested that we invite them into a collaborative contest of creating communication ideas that would follow three simple rules. The ideas needed to be simple, fun and engaging. They dove into the competition and after only twenty-five minutes, there were five different presentations that included a social media theme to old school walking billboards of the seven wonders (strategies) of the plan. They had a blast, and the service line administrator reported that all kinds of people, from managers to cardiologists, had contacted her the next day to report that they had never had so much fun at any kind of strategic meeting. They were engaged, excited and looking forward to collaborating more going forward to successfully become the best.
Why gather the folks? Because when we do, we have an opportunity to liberate them to do work that is invigorating and stirs their souls. If it happens to be fun – all the better!
“Co-creation honors that anytime I work with others - that I am working with them.”
~ Kevin Buck