Collaborating 101 – Consultation

In many instances, meetings are a complete waste of time. Tim Ferriss, in The 4-Hour Workweek, actually gives tips on how to get out of meetings in order to make your time more productive. I’d argue that there are scenarios which do require face to face interaction, but these occasions aren’t managed effectively. Here are some quick tips for revolutionizing your meetings, collaboration style.

  1. Physically be in the same room.
  2. Turn off your various electronic communications devices so you can actually be present and attentive.
  3. Determine who will chair the meeting. Structure is good. Authoritarianism is bad.
  4. Acknowledge that you know only what you know from your own perspective.
  5. Acknowledge that the others only know what they know from their own perspective.
  6. Accept that it’s not a competition. You don’t have to have the answers. (You probably don’t have the answer, anyway.)
  7. Engage in “group munch”. Everyone gets an opportunity to put their idea or insight to the group – but not to dwell on their contribution excessively. Forget who said the idea – even if it was you. Let the group take ownership of the idea, explore, discuss, and modify as needed.
  8. Arrive at a decision. A unanimous decision is best – strive for it. If you can’t reach that, ask if everyone can at least live with the decision – try for this. If that isn’t possible, take a majority vote. Accept the outcome, regardless of your personal feelings. Know that you were heard and you made your contribution.
  9. Understand that the decision is the best outcome that can be generated at that particular moment with the available information. It will likely not be perfect. Accept this. But carry out the decision, with the full support of everyone and then after giving it an honest effort after a predetermined period of time, revisit the decision and make any needed adjustments. Collaboration necessitates group learning.
  10. Don’t criticize the decision after the meeting. Don’t attempt to undermine its implementation. It may actually be a good decision, but you’ll never know if you don’t give it an honest effort to achieve its goal.

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