EVERYONE PARTICIPATES IN MEETINGS!
LET'S MAKE THEM PRODUCTIVE AND PLEASANT
If you are in a business or academic setting, you may have decision making meetings many times a week, even several times a day. They may be in a twosome, a small group or team, or a larger group.
There are meetings of religious community committees and non-profit organizations we belong to. And, we have decision making meetings with our significant others, our partners, children, or whole family every day!
Below you find the simple "How To's For Groups" which arose from my dissertation research, Listening and Interruptions in Task-Oriented Groups, University of Chicago, 1977, with Eugene Gendlin, creator of Focusing (Focusing, Bantam, 1981, 1984) as advisor. My Collaborative Edge Decision Making process creates an atmosphere where articulating from right-brain, creative, preverbal "hunches" and "intuitionss" becomes possible, direct access to The Creative Edge for creation of new ideas and solutions.
Over the next four weeks, we will look at incorporating the procedures into groups that you belong to:
INSTANT "Ahah!" 5
Coordinated Collaboration: The Best of Consensus and Hierarchy
Here are some Task-Roles and Impasse Resolution Procedures , for use when a group has a limited time to make decisions. This model can also be used, as Coordinated Collaboration, as a way of gathering information and input, in work groups where there is a boss, a Project Manager, or a Coordinator who will make the final decisions.
As with all the Applied Methods of Creative Edge Focusing, the procedures create quiet, protected moments where participants can pay attention to the "intuitive feel," The Creative Edge, and create innovative ideas and solutions.
The tasks can be rotated in a "shared leadership" model, where appropriate, each person on the team learning the various skills. Or, for instance, on the Board of a Corporation or Non-Profit Organization, the formal Chairperson might serve as the agenda keeper more regularly.
Shared Leadership Tasks
The group appoints or gets volunteers for the following tasks:
1. Agenda keeper: This person watches over the content of the meeting, while the process monitor is watching over its process. This is like the typical chairperson, who :
· Collects an agenda of items to be discussed and/or decided-upon.
· Prioritizes them in terms of order and amount of time allotted to each. The group helps with this.
· Makes sure that the group adheres to the agenda and the time limits for agenda items (see also below, under "time keeper"). When the group wants to spend more time on an item, the time has to be taken away from another item, if the ending time of the meeting is fixed. Redistribution of time must be a conscious decision of the group.
2. Process monitor: This person watches over the process, as the agenda keeper
watches over the content of the meeting. The process monitor :
· Keeps a list of people waiting for a turn to speak (they raise a finger to indicate this desire). Now participants can listen to others instead of trying to figure out how to interrupt and get a chance to speak.
· Calls on people from the list. This is especially important when conversation becomes heated and everyone wants to talk at once!
· Enforces a limit of 3 minutes (or another agreed-upon length) on any speaking turn. A polite way to get on to the next speaker. (See also below, under "time keeper").
· Reminds people that "No interruptions are allowed". A ground rule of the group process is "No Interrupting".
· Can suggest that the group use Focused Listening to resolve a conflict or make sure someone can be understood.
· Can suggest that the group use some of the other suggested procedures for "Creative Edge Impasse Resolution" (see below).
Anyone in the group can ask for Focused Listening or Interpersonal Focusing between two people, but it is the Process Monitor's job. This is plenty to do without trying to monitor content, or the agenda, as well.
3. An Alternate Process Monitor:
· Takes over if and when the Process Monitor needs to enter the discussion at the meeting and can't do this job for a while!
4. A Time Keeper:
· Keeps time for 3-minute speaking turns (see above, "process monitor").
· Keeps track of time allotted for each agenda item (see above, "agenda keeper").
· Insists that the group re-negotiate time if it wants to continue on with an item after the time limit is up.
· Takes minutes.
· Notes any decisions which have been reached on items.
· Asks the group to state any decision made before moving on, if no decision has been formally made. It's surprising how often a group will spend time discussing an item then drift on to the next without making a decision.
These are very basic structures that can be tried in any task-oriented group situation immediately. This approach really can work for board meetings and other situations where people have to make decisions in a fixed amount of time.
Creative Edge Impasse Resolution: When the Going Gets Rough
When the going gets rough, the group can stop and do a variety of methods from The Creative Edge Pyramid which increase access to The Creative Edge, and thus to creativity, innovation, and win/win decision making:
- a Group Intuitive Focusing exercise, taking a few moments of quiet, each person sensing into the "intuitive feel" of the question or issue is facing the group
- a "Round Robin" after a Group Focusing exercise, where each person gets one - three minutes to have their say on an item, no interruptions allowed
- Interpersonal Focusing: a Listening facilitator, can, by turns, use Focused Listening to reflect each of two speakers who are having a conflict or difficulty understanding each other, allowing a creative solution to emerge
- Focusing Partnership break out: breaking out into pairs or triads for equal Focusing/Listening turns on an issue, then coming back with perhaps a Round Robin for sharing new insights
- Brainstorming and any other techniques helpful in other forms of group process, followed by Group Intuitive Focusing and Round Robin sharing of new "intuitive feels", Creative Edges, stirred by the technique.
You can begin learning now by thinking about the groups you belong to, the meetings you attend.
- What are the plusses and minuses of these meetings?
- What is the "whole body feel" of being at these meetings?
- Do people interrupt each other?
- Are conflicts polarized and never changing?
- Do people feel free to share their negative feelings about a decision?
- Does a minority do all the talking?
- Is there a chance to pause to formulate a new but vague idea?
- Can you imagine asking the group to try out the Shared Leadership model in Instant "Ahah!" #5?
- Can you imagine incorporating Listening and Focusing skills into these meetings? What would the difference be?
For a complete explanation of the theory behind access to The Creative Edge and innovative decision making, you can download Dr. McGuire's comprehensive article, "Collaborative Edge Decision Making Method, " . As a bonus, the Appendix of this article includes Handouts you can use at actual meetings, one for each role in Shared Leadership.