Conversation Killers, Part 4 – Logistics Can Kill Process, Innovation, and Change
This is the final post in the series on Conversation Killers. If you want to catch up on the rest of the series, you can find them here:
In this final post I want to focus on a few logistical issues that can derail your conversations. Once again, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it does highlight the need for intentional planning prior to any strategic conversation. Let’s dive in.
PowerPoint Overload – Presentations are not conversations. Too many leaders try to hang their hats on the information they have to share. And its not hard to see why. There are a lot of great resources for creating dynamic presentations. Any bit of information can be dressed up to look good with just a few clicks of the mouse. But we can’t confuse information with conversation. One-way communication does not lead to innovation and change. Information, or knowledge, represents a starting point, but it won’t get us to the finish line for our churches and organizations. The key: present only the information required to get the conversation started. If it takes longer than 15-18 minutes to present what you’re trying to get across, break it into parts, strip it down, or provide some information for processing before the meeting. Don’t judge the success of your meetings by the information presented. Instead, look for wins in the conversations that take place during and after the gathering.
Poor Location – Where you have a meeting may be as important as how you have it. One of my favorite sayings is “Everything speaks.” When your team members walk into your meeting space, a lot is communicated to them by the space before they ever take a seat. How is the room arranged? What is on the walls? Is the room quiet or is there energy in the room? Your location and environment can determine the outcome of the meeting before it even starts. The key: be as intentional as you can about the venue you select. Even if you have a good meeting space, change it up based on what you’re trying to get from your team. Choose an environment that can contribute to the outcome of your meeting rather than constrain it. An example: send your hospitality team on a field trip to Starbucks and McDonald’s to observe and discuss models of hospitality.
Not Enough Time – A rushed conversation is worse than no conversation at all because, while the conversation took place, its effectiveness is greatly diminished. Time-pressed meetings often break down into information sharing sessions and tend to skip the critical components of understanding and decision/action. The key: structure what needs to be done, rather than adjust to what is available. Most times a single, three-hour gathering is much more effective than three one-hour meetings. If the intended outcome of your meeting is worth working toward, plan your meetings according to your needs instead of adjusting your needs to what’s convenient.
Its also equally as important to manage time well. I’ll tell a story on myself here. A couple of years ago I facilitated a weekend for a large church in the north. They were working to develop an intentional discipleship process for their church. We had around 75 staff, leaders, and key influencers in the room for this two-day process which culminated in work groups who drilled down on the critical issues that surfaced throughout the event. At least it was supposed to. When I got to the point in the process where the issues work was to take place, I realized that I was unclear on the expected end time for the day. Because of my misunderstanding, the process got cut short and some of the most valuable work from the group was lost. So, plan your time well, but manage it even better.
What about you? How have you seen poor logistics impact your meetings? What have you learned that has helped you plan and execute more effectively for your team or organization?