One of the most effective strategies to run better meetings and development sessions is to establish a set of protocols at the start. These working working norms should be discussed and shared before you begin and even used to help you debrief.
We have all probably experienced these in some form or another – no technology, come with an open mind, somebody to take minutes. The usual stuff – here I present a range of alternative protocols I know work from years of application.
Use this protocol to encourage everyone to step up
Although one person may have convened a session or be running the meeting it is always beneficial to discuss how every participant can contribute. I often couple this with a Step Up Step Back protocol – which emphasises the need for everyone to contribute. Participants are not attending to simply warm the seats. Sessions are more effective when there is a shared and collective responsibility to work successfully together and not just be on the shoulders of one person.
Approve or Improve
Use this protocol to improve giving feedback
Develop the expectation that feedback is done under the protocol of approving an idea or helping to improve and develop it further. Feedback should not be so the giver has air time. Critique should help move an idea forward.
Hold your Ideas Lightly
Use this protocol to improve receiving feedback
How we receive feedback is probably more important than how we give it. To help you when inviting feedback think about Holding Your Ideas Lightly so that others can offer critique. Avoid clutching your idea so tightly that others can’t help. Effective feedback needs an open disposition
W.A.I.T – Why Am I Talking?
Use this protocol to develop meta-cognition
Before you contribute take some moments to pause and reflect on why you are contributing. Get into the habit of asking some simple questions: What is my intention behind what I am about to say? Is there a question I could ask that would help me better understand what the other person is saying and perceiving? How might I simply listen and let go of my urge to talk in this moment?
Write stuff down and create artifacts
Use this protocol to make your thinking visible
Such a simple protocol and something that is often overlooked as everyone starts up their laptops as they settle into the session. Make room for materials in the middle of the table and describe how making your thinking more visible and tangible will aid development. Use index cards or post-it notes to scribe ideas and jot down themes from discussions. Get into the habit as a team of writing stuff down.
Talk about the Talking
Use this protocol to better transition into the meeting
All too often we jump headlong into the agenda. With no intentional transition we are often left reeling with our mind still caught up with the work you just left or from the meeting you have just walked out of. By making time to deliberately Talk About the Talking you address the change and shift in pace and allow participants time to settle in. As a team gets into the habit of exploring what the work will require of us, will it be creative or analytical thinking? Will we be unpacking something or exploring new concepts? Taking a few moments to prime everyone and transition well invariably leads to a better meeting.
Protocols are expectations that you make explicit and that shape and guide the experience you have with others. Over time and with consistency these expectations become common practice and a normal part of your successful meetings.
These five ideas are an extension to the core protocols that I have been using for years – let me know what protocols and structures work for you.
from The Curious Creative