Mar 31, 2022·edited Mar 31, 2022Liked by John Cutler

Last week I facilitated the kickoff of a team — the "usual" stuff: who's who (us, our neighbours, our stakeholders), what "a day in the life of" our team looks like, what's the mission, what are our goals, how we want to work together.

180 -organized, facilitated, structured- minutes (with a 15' pause in the middle, a soft start and a soft ending).

Energies were low, right off the bat. Mission and goals: vague, generic, unclear. The people in the team came really alive only when we spoke about working agreements ("How should we work as a team? Should we meet? When? How?").

I paraphrase just a bit: their feedback was "please no more useless meeting, including the 'agile' ones". Well, so we are kicking off a team that doesn't want to meet unless is necessary. I hear you.

We'll take a couple of weeks to find out what "necessary" means before stopping the entire team again.

When I asked them for feedback about the 180 minutes we spent together (I like using ROTI, return on time invested as a metric) the numbers were good, but the feedback about "how could we go from your vote to a +1" was along the lines of "3 hours are a bit too much" and "nice meeting, but I'm not sure what changes now".

I think that when people are immersed in a Meeting #1 environment, they struggle with Meeting #2 too, despite all the best intentions.

As coaches and facilitators we would like our work to be valued right off the bat, but we have to come to terms with the fact that, at least at the beginning, for most people it will be "just another meeting" — it's not the meeting itself, it's the environment around it ("If Meeting #1 companies are competing against other Meeting #1 companies (for now), there may be no incentive to really change." this one struck a chord with me).

Not only that, I think that in lots of Meeting #1 situations people are either in "extreme action mode" (that pile of ASAP requests coming through Slack) or "extreme passive mode" (being in a useless meeting) so much so that the middle ground (constructive, facilitated reflection) gets equated to being passive.

That's why for me the "more Meetings #2" wouldn't be a good metric either — my strategy so far has been doing lots of individual or three-people-max meeting to prepare the bigger, Meeting #2 ones. Yes, it takes longer to do anything, but you can't compress reflection.

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I love the concept of #2 meetings and I've led / participated in what you're talking about at times. I'm curious if you could provide a bit of a framework around that kind of meeting. Like pre-reads, etc. What kind of pre-reads typically do you have in mind? Just a little bit more context to the content of that kind of meeting would be helpful. Thanks for your thoughts as always, John.

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Ugh! That's us - running tons of Meeting #1s! It takes a special skill to facilitate Meeting #2s well and keep the team accountable.

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