Being timely, and the importance of time and timing has been on my mind a lot lately. If you choose to read on – you will be sorely tempted to believe that what follows doesn’t apply to you. After all – you’re smart right? I mean – you’re here reading this 😉 Please – try not to rush to exclude yourself from what follows. If not for your sake – then for others. You are influential and the way you behave influences others. No man is an island.
The way we schedule meetings at work is bonkers, back to back to back to back. And unless one of you has invented time travel (pause….nope, OK let’s carry on then), you know the impossibility of back to back to back meetings and let you let people delude you into having them all the time. A cram packed diary is the diary of a madman (note – ladies the same applies to you also but there’s no Ozzy Osbourne album title reference available to use for you…yet).
Then – we cram these ‘important’ meetings full of ‘important’ stuff and either rush it, or don’t cover everything. As a result we often make bad decisions based on bad meetings. Sound familiar? To my mind, if that meeting is both necessary and important, then why not ensure it’s meaningful too? Take at least half the crap, I mean important stuff, off the agenda.
If you are afforded the privilege of talking at a conference or some other live event, please, finish on time. Unless you want to run the risk of being remembered as ‘the guy who overran’. You don’t want that – do you?
It is half past eight in the morning here in New Orleans, and I’m hungry. Breakfast time, in fact any mealtime, matters. I try not to skip them too often and I try, wherever possible, to enjoy my food in the company of others. I hope you do too. For example, last night I met up with Tommy Talley (we’d first met the day before at the Louisiana State HR Conference in Baton Rouge) and we went out and shared oysters and crawfish. We got talking with Jean and Alyssa and it turned out Jean really didn’t like dining alone either. After our meal we went to a funky cocktail joint and over a Side Car we looked up fear of dining alone. It’s called Solomangarephobia. Who knew?
I started writing this post at 11pm on my last evening in New York City. I may have had a few drinks.
Today has been great, useful fun. The good people of Thomson Reuters have turned up to their unconference and questioned, participated and contributed to the max.
We’ve articulated our anticipations and anxieties, shared raw, personal stories, and worked our way through awkward silences. Most importantly, together we’ve delivered a day that is truly about the people in the room and those who are important to them.
In particular I want to reflect on an uncomfortable moment when having shared many ideas, the group were trying to distil them and get to grips with the questions they wanted to explore next. This process can be difficult, frustrating even – something doesn’t always emerge immediately, particularly when trying to form ideas from such a wealth of initial output. A question was asked along the lines of ‘So what is it we should be talking about?’. It seemed a perfectly reasonable question and I’m pretty sure many others were thinking it. In the moment I turned the question back to the group and on the 30th floor way above Times Square, time stands still.
What followed was a short period of awkwardness before, after some more bouncing of ideas – we got to somewhere useful. I know it was somewhere useful because the blast wave of conversation that followed was pretty much unstoppable. Even more importantly – in that moment the group clearly saw the purpose of their gathering was all about them. They matter, their views and ideas matter.
I’ll share more from the day when I get home. For now I’ve got to pack up and leave my apartment. Thanks to everyone who has made my stay so much fun, I’ve learned loads while I’ve been away, and boy….I’m ready to come home.
Ahhh, the Pecha Kucha – a lesson in brevity and discipline. For those who don’t know, a Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for chit chat) is a presentation of 20 slides, each one set to autoforward after 20 seconds, so the whole presentation is complete in six minutes and forty seconds. They are a challenging way to tell a story and a good way to pave the way into a group discussion. The rigid format is not to everyone’s liking and I encourage everyone who has not tried one before to give it a go. My good friend Flora Marriott blogged a great piece including fab tips on Pecha Kuchas here, highly recommended reading.
I was fortunate to help Thomson Reuters and their Project Management community and guests have some useful fun thinking about how to make work better earlier this week. We used Pecha Kuchas as a way of sowing idea seeds that some people chose to intellectually water as part of some bigger, very energising conversations. We played with lots of ways of developing content throughout our time together and the essence of each Pecha Kucha was captured by Tim Casswell and his team at Creative Connections. I thought rather than share the presentations themselves, I would like to share the pictures Tim and co made of the presentations with you, I hope they spark a few thoughts in you too.
Anthony Allinson on Community
Yours Truly on Why Are We Here? (in part a scene setter for the day)