Categories
General

The Art of Gathering

I have been asked thousands of times to facilitate small or large gatherings. When I worked on Changing Your Team From The Inside, I wanted to make clear that self-organization is the most powerful way for people to organize, but that based on their history, you will need to help them get there. You will need to create the conditions for self-organization to happen.

Chapter nine of the book is titled Organize because self-organization requires organization. I focused the chapter on meetings because it is something easier to change, to adjust, to experiment on, than to change the whole organization. And I believe it is much more impactful to change the way we meet than to change the reporting structure.

The Art of Gathering, by Priya Parker, is a perfect book. The structure brings you gently to think about all the aspects that matter about your gathering.

It starts with the purpose of the gathering. Why do we really gather? And, of course, the answer is not because it is Monday.

Then you cover the uncomfortable question of who should join. And, no, inviting everybody is not an inclusive option. It is even the opposite. Why would someone who attends a meeting on which he or she will bring no value should feel included?

In the role of the host, you have power, and you have to use that power to serve the purpose of the gathering and your guests.

The time of the gathering is a temporary alternative world in which the traditional rules are not necessarily valid. You can, and in fact, you have to create rules that once again will serve the purpose and the guests. The author gives a ton of inspiring examples.

I know that, and even knowing it, I understood reading the chapter that I was not investing smartly enough on the openings of my gatherings.

In conferences or other gatherings, my frustration level grows each minute that passes. Why that? Because people are not true and authentic. Okay, I am over-generalizing. Not all people are manipulative and insincere. And not all people behave all the time the same way. The big idea is that it takes intentional efforts to create conditions for people to be true and authentic.

In meetings, when we stay on the surface of things, we can be very polite and respectful, avoid any potential conflicts and keep the status quo forever. If keeping the status quo is what you need, you probably don’t have to push hard to get to that. If not, then it is on you to organize the controversy so we can really discuss what matters and initiate a change.

We are approaching the end of the post, and you have to know that ends matter a lot. I would like to, once again, thank the author for having created that perfect book. I would like to thank you for reading and sharing this post. I would like to encourage you to read the book, and to share what you learned and how it affects your next gatherings. Working on ending the meeting properly is probably one thing I would change in Chapter 9 of Changing Your Team From The Inside.

And finally, what I would love is to have Priya Parker on Le Podcast to discuss how to apply her expertise and experience to online gatherings. But I guess you will all have to ask for it to happen!

Categories
General

Town Hall Meeting

The term Town Hall Meeting is often used inside a company to characterize a meeting organized by a highly ranked executive and gathering a large part of the company employees, or even all of them.

Usually, the meeting is meant to give a short status on what the executives are working on for the future of the company and to answer some of the burning questions that have been heard in the hall way. Some of those questions have not been heard directly by the executives, but have been reported to them by some people. I have used two times the word “some” in the last sentence to give a sense of fuzziness, and uncertainty of what are the real concerns of people.

Let’s imagine that you are this executive, you have organized the meeting, you are ready for your speech, everybody is there. So now, you delivered your speech and you are ready for questions.

And, there’s no question.

Or, if there are questions, there are pushed by some manager, that want you to repeat what you already said, something that will reinforce their own beliefs, or positions.

In your speech, you have even gone further than what was planned to be said with your management team, and you have said that.

But still, there’s no question.

And, you know that there are unspoken questions. But the time is over, and there’s no way to know what are the real questions.

What is the problem?

Maybe the problem lies in the format itself. The Town Hall is not giving the sense to people that they can contribute to the thinking, that they can disagree. The Town Hall presents yourself in a position of power, with the authority to say yes or no.

Now, let’s say that you are a participant of the Town Hall Meeting.

At some point during the speech, you had one question. It was not really a question, in reality, it was more a slight disagreement. Maybe you wanted a clarification.

During the course of the speech, you have seen that effect reproduced 2 or 3 times. But that was not the time for questions.

And when the time for questions came, you cannot find a way to formulate all this in a meaningful way.

You even heard some of your coworkers said at the end of the meeting: “I bite my tongue because I really not agree with what Mr. Z said on this topic”.

Another option?

Maybe, If we want more interactions, if we want people to ask for clarifications when it’s time to do that, we need to use another format of meetings.

One of those formats could be a Fish Bowl.

In a fish bowl, the executive will not be alone in the center, so he can be joined in the fishbowl by some people in his or her management team. And it’s a moderated conversation, so topics can flow more freely from one or the other.

In addition, there’s an empty chair in the middle, and any person in the audience can sit on that chair to join the conversation at any time. When this occurs, an existing member of the fishbowl must leave the fishbowl and free a chair.

This way the clarifications questions and the slight disagreement could be covered at the moment they arise, and more questions and concerns can be covered.

Are you ready to try this?

 

 

 

The header picture is from Ryan McGuire.