The responsibility of clarity
Was that meeting a time sink or did we move forward?
I am frequently the convener of a meetings that have the purpose of taking a step towards something no one has done before.
The participants are sometimes strangers to each other, the idea is unfamiliar and significant effort will be required on the other side.
Reflecting on a fail
I had one of those meetings last week and left frustrated that I had failed to leave the group with clarity. It was a two hour session so was an expensive deployment of time for all involved.
It was my job to build enough clarity to slingshot to the next step or stop activity on the project.
With no extra clarity from me, I think this meeting will come to nothing. No one had enough clarity to take the next step, but the project is still open, consuming cycles.
My notes for doing better
Next time I have one of these sessions, I will be more deliberate.
- Send a clear frame before the meeting and restate at the start. Give the group some stable ground to leap from.
- Be clear about what problem I think we are here to solve or the shared opportunity we face.
- Be clear about why each person is in the room from my perspective.
- Get people broadly contemplating the same thing. Bringing their own perspective, but building the same idea.
- Imagine a specific output. What can we say if we are successful? A press release? A slide in a pitch deck? A customer review?
- Get more opinions from the diversity in the room. Specific questions like: What is the next step? What are we not thinking about?
- Does this idea need time to percolate? What pre-work could each person bring? What could we do after once it has grown in people’s minds?
- Should there be more silent time imagining ideas, using tools?
- When it is big, be clear about the first tangible steps. What is the first experiment?
- Ask each person what their next step is.
I know it’s not rocket science.
But it is hard to do.
And easy not to do.
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