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Thursday, May 5th, 2011

A Fun Way To Start Any Meeting: The “Awesomeness Report”

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I’ve written a couple of articles on how to run a meeting (see the effective Daily Huddle approach that the Ritz Carlton and others use or an easy 3-step framework in my G.A.P. Approach To Running Meetings article).

Over the last year I’ve added a fun way to start a meeting: “The Awesomeness Report.”

My friend's son Clarke and his friend really got a kick out of watching silly adults (some were naked) in the Bay To Breakers Race.

It’s real simple, I just ask the person I’m meeting with:

“What’s something really awesome that’s happened with you lately…in any part of your life.”

I’ve found this to be a super-effective way to start a meeting because it virtually guarantees that you start off on a positive note  (and “positive things happen to positive thinkers” as a wise man once said).

Some Awesome Things People Have Shared With Me In Recent Meetings

“When I sneezed last week, my 22-month-old son said his version of ‘bless you.’”

“My 18-year old son was chosen by his soccer teammates as one of the two most inspirational players on the team…and a good friend of mine’s son was the other one chosen.”

“My son just starred in the school play…and he killed it!”

“I just got back from Bogota, Columbia — a University there invited me to do 12 speeches (3 or 4 per day) and I got to travel around with a bodyguard and a translator!”

“I taught my two twin grand-daughters how to ride a bicycle…it was even more fun than teaching my son!”

“I’m going to a personal trainer the last 5 weeks…and I’ve lost 15 pounds.”

“We were named Dell’s agency of record.”

“I just helped my Mom move out of our family home that she resided in for the last 37 years… a very cathartic experience…Mom is estatic!”

“I just jumped out of an airplane with my godson to celebrate his high school graduation last Saturday.”

“My wife just got her law degree…and so we’re both finally done with school!”

“My daughter just got back from spending her Junior year abroad in Rome!”

“We (Crowdstar) just announced $23 million in funding!”

“I had my 20 year wedding anniversary and got remarried again (to the same husband) in a church wedding this time!”

“I went to Mexico for 5 days with a gorgeous Mexican woman…her parents

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Monday, May 11th, 2009

3 Simple Steps To Run An Effective Meeting: The GAP Approach

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I get asked about how to run effective meetings all the time. As I wrote about in my Daily Huddle Article, how you run meetings has a material effect on your business.

If You Run Poor Meetings, No One Will Show Up

If You Run Poor Meetings, No One Will Show Up

I believe that the difference between a dull meeting and an amazing meeting is how you organize it.

I originally heard about one meetings format used by a consultant to a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary and I think it works just great.

It’s called G.A.P and it stands for Goal, Agenda and Preparation.

I believe every meeting should have all three!

Goal

The goal, or purpose, of the meeting needs to be stated upfront. A good way to remember what goes into a goal (for meetings or anything else) is that it should be a SMART Goal as in:

S = The goal should be Specific

M = The goal should be Measureable

A = The goal should be Achievable

R = The goal should be Relevant

T = The goal should be Timely (it should be reachable by the time the meeting ends)

That gets you off to the right start to a SMART meeting!

Agenda

When you hold a meeting, you need to have an agenda…even if the agenda is to have no agenda. Huh?

What I’m saying is that you as the meeting organizer need to state how the attendees are going to use the time at the meeting. The agenda could be something as simple as:

  1. Description of Problem You Face (10 minutes)
  2. Input From Each Team Member (10 minutes)
  3. Recommendation on Next Steps (10 minutes)

Or, if you’re not going to have something so structured, then state that the agenda is:

  • Open Discussion (30 minutes)

Preparation

A key to most meetings is preparation (by you the meeting organizer and by the attendees).

So, if you call a meeting, tell the attendees what they need to do to prepare.

When they join the meeting, should they have already reviewed a spreadsheet that you sent out? Do they need to have collected information from someone inside or outside the company?

Tell them how to prepare…if there’s no advanced preparation then I like to just say: “No Preparation…Just Bring Your Brain.”

If you use online calendars to schedule meetings, you should put the entire Goal, Agenda and Preparation (GAP) within your calendar invitation.

Follow GAP and you’ll have better meetings.

Note: You may have heard of another “GAP” used in business: the GAP Analysis strategic planning tool. Read How to Do A Gap Analysis for more on this valuable tool.

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Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

How The Ritz Carlton & I Run Our Meetings: The Daily Huddle

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The Daily Huddle has arguably been one of the greatest productivity and efficiency boosters I’ve personally experienced.

Since I started using it, I’ve run into numerous industry leaders (such as the Ritz Carlton and Johnson & Johnson) who benefit from the Daily Huddle.

Duhh, why didn’t I begin this 20 years ago!

300px-victory_huddle

England huddle to celebrate victory over India in Mumbai, March 2006

I first read about the concept of the Daily Huddle in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, which may be the best how-to book for small businesses that I’ve read.  Its author Verne Harnish was inspired by the habits of business tycoon John D. Rockefeller and translates those for you to apply to business today.

I know, I sound pretty excited about this stuff — that’s cuz I am!

So, what is the Daily Huddle? Well, for starters, I use the term “Daily Huddle” because I like the ring of it — you may have heard it called names like Daily Scrum, Daily Pulse, Daily Agile, Daily Lineup (Ritz Carlton) or Daily StandUp. The concept is what counts.

Basics

Let me outline the basics first:

  • Time of Day — It should be as early as possible (ideally in the morning).
  • Length of Time — 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the team).
  • Number of Attendees — Teams of 7 or fewer people (if you have teams that are larger than 7, you probably have a team that needs to be split up).
  • Who Attends — Every person in your company should be attending at least one Daily Huddle (but no person should attend more than two or three).
  • Who Runs It — I recommend you pick the senior manager of the particular team to run it (unless he or she is not organized in which case pick the most senior organized person).
  • Where Does it Take Place — It can be done in person or over the phone or on videoconferencing if you’re lucky enough to have one of those.

Agenda

The agenda is the same every day. I recommend you first test out the Rockefeller Habits’ suggested agenda. That’s what I did and we didn’t need to change a thing.

  1. What’s Up — The first section of the Daily Huddle should be about each of your team members sharing the What’s Up of what they’ve accomplished since you all last met. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes (Every participant should talk for no more than 30 seconds each).
  2. The Numbers — The second section is about the numbers of your business. Here, you should cover the critical metrics that are most important to your team. For example, in my Sales Daily Huddle, we report on such vitals as total sales by brand from the previous day (with comparisons to prior periods) and percentage of our monthly sales goal we project. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes
  3. Roadblocks — This section focuses on the roadblocks (also called “bottlenecks”) that the team members face. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Values & Ideology — This last section covers values-related items that don’t fit nicely into the first 3 sections of the meeting. An example of Values or Ideology items might be praise that someone outside the group has earned or a personal item that someone outside the meeting is facing that is affecting their performance (for example, we just had a woman on our team whose neighborhood in Santa Barbara was on fire (from Wildfires); and one of our values is to make sure to take care of such people in need of assistance (by offering to pick up her slack and be extra supportive of her and her family).

Bonus Tips

Here are some other things I’ve noticed from my experience with the Daily Huddle.

  • Give it a Week — It will be tough for your people to adopt at first (the first one will be awkward when, for instance, you ask people “What’s Up?) — But it will become easier as the team figures it out (give it a good week!)
  • Don’t Problem Solve — You should keep it focused on problem-identification and not problem-solving (if there’s a problem that can’t be solved with a “one-liner” by one of the group, then you should schedule to meet off-line.
  • Start at Odd Time — Try scheduling it and a time other than the half-hour or hour (e.g. try 10:02am in the morning). Reason: People will remember it more and you’ll find they show up at 10am to 10:01am (instead of being late!).
  • It Helps The Rest of Your Day — The Daily Huddle will help you and your team better figure out how to spend the rest of their day.
  • Start with Senior People — The most effective way to roll out the Daily Huddle is to have your organization’s leaders do it first (secret: if leaders do it, it will trickle down through the rest of your business).

And please read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits — it’s chock full of other valuable habits and ideas for businesses to grow.

You should comment below about your experience with the Daily Huddle — I really want to hear your opinion!

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