J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

August, 2012

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    7 Practices for More Effective Meetings

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    Here are seven practices I’ve experienced that worked well with meetings:

    1. Let a person finish their point
    2. Answer the question asked.
    3. Say what you mean, mean what you say.
    4. No leading questions or asking questions you know the answer to (see #3)
    5. Answer the question simply, and only elaborate if asked (this saves on long answers to the wrong questions or misunderstandings.)
    6. Make it safe to explore an idea and play out a thought -- help each other express/understand/be understood.
    7. Ask questions at the end – this builds momentum.

    It’s really about momentum … we can spiral up or spiral down.  Energy is our best asset to spend on the right things.

    On #7 -- Any time I've seen meetings have momentum (and I can think of multiple vignettes), it’s when somebody put their thoughts out on the table first, without being sliced and diced along the way.  I also think of examples, where somebody finishes painting the broad strokes of their picture  ... and we get the bigger picture, before needling at the fine points, and fracturing great ideas in the making … or at least getting the bird’s-eye view before chasing the rabbit down the hole.

    When we practice #7, it builds trust, people are heard and understood, and people will be less long-winded, and defensive, etc.

    Bonus --- Have a skilled facilitator, manage the shot clock, set time for things (timebox), take decisive actions, and have a parking lot to put things.

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    Time Management Tips #13 - Just Start

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    Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.  In fact, sometimes the start takes more effort than the work:

    "It is always the start that requires the greatest effort." -- James Cash Penney (Yeah, the guy that started J.C. Penney’s)

    If you don't know where to start, then start with something small.

    Be a fire-starter ... use your little victories for kindling.

    How do you get started? 

    Just start.

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    Time Management Tips # 12 - Do Something Small

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    Sometimes small is the best way to make progress.  In fact, sometimes it's the only way.

    If you don't have time to do something big, do something small.  Don't make a major production out of it, don't make a mountain out of a molehill.  Chunk it down.  It's a skill you can practice daily. 

    What's one small thing you could do … today?

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    Positive Intelligence at Microsoft

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    This is a post about putting Positive (PQ) Intelligence into practice at Microsoft.  The goal is to be in the 20% of teams and individuals that achieve their true potential.  (Yeah, there is a premise that only 20% of teams and individuals achieve their true potential.)

    Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a big deal.  Some says, it's the difference that makes the difference when it comes to success.  If you hit a glass ceiling in your role or in your career, many times, it's developing your Emotional Intelligence that can help get you to the next level.

    Even if Emotional Intelligence doesn't help you move forward, you at least don't want it holding you back.

    If you haven't heard about Positive Intelligence (PQ), it's introduced in the book, Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential, by Shirzard Chamine.  PQ puts EQ into practice.  Here is what Shirzad writes:

    “As I’ve already suggested, your mind is your best friend, but it is also your worst enemy.  Positive Intelligence is the relative strength of these two modes of your mind.  High Positive Intelligence means your mind act as your friend far more than as your enemy.  Low Positive Intelligence is the reverse.  Positive Intelligence is therefore an indication of the control you have over your own mind and how well your mind acts in your best interest.”

    I like that.  It's about having your mind work for you, or with you, instead of against you.

    As part of Tribal Word, a book club I'm leading at Microsoft with a colleague, a bunch of us are reading and applying Positive Intelligence on the job.  We're challenging each other to unleash our Sages and don't be a Victim to our Judge.

    The power of the Sage includes connecting with others through empathy, exploring thinking and ideas with genuine curiosity, coming up with new and innovative ideas, navigating challenging problems with skill, and taking more decisive action.

    Sage mode is about going from "fight or flight" to "ready and relaxed."  As our General Manager reminds us, our brains work better when we are rested and relaxed.  And it's true.  “Fight or flight” doesn’t serve us in many scenarios (Unless you need to run away from a tiger.)

    The beauty of the book is that it smashes through the idea that the only way to get the most out of people or yourself is through fear, guilt, shame, pressure, or negative consequences.  After all, would you rather swim away from a shark, or swim toward a gold medal?

    The other beauty of the book is that the appendix has a lot of the technical details as to why and how the methods work, so it's not just neat ideas and fun thinking.

    I've written up a simple action framework you can use to apply Positive Intelligence to work and life using three simple action steps.

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