FirstAgenda partners with DecisionCaddy, experts in improving decision-meetings. In this article we share with you the four steps they recommend for significantly improving meeting culture in your organization, and invite you to participate in their webinar on the same topic.
Changing the meeting culture in a large organization is a complex task, and it requires more than sending a couple of colleagues off-site for a course in meeting facilitation. Rather, it requires a coordinated effort across multiple meetings in different parts of the organization. DecisionCaddy go through four steps, when improving meeting culture across large organizations.
Watch DecisionCaddy's webinar on video
Learn how you can avoid wasting your time and get to the decisions you need from the meeting. Mikkel explains which activities you should prioritize when managing the five phases of forum facilitation.
Get to know DecisionCaddy
DecisionCaddy is a Danish consulting company specializing in improving decision-meetings. They have years of experience working with meeting facilitators across large organizations. We ventured into this partnership because some of our customers are challenged by an ineffective meeting culture. They experience too many meetings, with too many participants, insufficient alignment around key decisions, and poor communication from the meetings. Therefore, we are very excited to partner with DecisionCaddy, and offer their know-how to our customers.
What is a decision-meeting?
Steering group meetings, leadership meetings, and different “cross-organizational” meetings (sometimes named committee, board, council, forum). Typically these are called as recurring meetings.
Q: What types of meetings do you focus on?
First of all, it is critically important to realize that there are many different kinds of meetings, and you shouldn’t approach too many at once. DecisionCaddy, as the name indicates, focus on decision-meetings, specifically planned and recurring meetings. These are often labelled, steering group-, committee- or council-meetings, and they are typically intended to drive strategic decisions and initiatives and to resolve escalations from the organization.
Q: Why start with the decision-meeting?
These meetings are often costly, measured in salary-hours invested, and if they are derailed, projects get delayed and execution slows down. Furthermore, if you manage to improve meeting culture in these meetings, which typically have senior executive participation, there is a considerable spillover effect to other meetings where the same people participate.
And when you address this portfolio of high-level decision-meetings across the organization, you achieve a critical mass. I.e. leaders and executives are faced with similar, increased, expectations across several meetings - not just the one meeting facilitated by someone who recently participated in facilitation training. This way you increase the chances for introducing a lasting change.
4 steps to more effective decision-meetings
Changing meeting culture requires work but it can be done. The benefit is less costly meetings, due to time saved, more engaged employees, and a more agile organization due to faster decisions and improved communication. You will experience less of your time wasted in meetings, and faster progress of the projects you are working on.
DecisionCaddy recommends the following four-step-process for organizations that want to work deliberately on improving the effectiveness of the meeting culture:
1: Map and analyze the decision-meetings in the organization and list suggestions for improvement
You should focus on the most important decision-meetings. Often, the portfolio of important decision-meetings is not known, and it takes a bit of interviewing to map out the important decision-meetings and information like who participates, what is the purpose, how often the meetings are held, etc. Based on the findings, use common sense to propose simplification of meeting portfolio and to limit the average number of participants which ideally should be less than 7.
2: Include the management team and meeting facilitators in implementing the changes
Ensure that the management team or executive management decide on which decision-meetings to discontinue, who should no longer attend recurring decision-meetings which historically had too many participants. Communicate excessively and expect resistance. Work with meeting facilitators to implement changes in your preferred meeting platform - for instance Outlook or FirstAgenda.
3: Arrange training and education for meeting facilitators and digitize manual meeting processes
In some organizations, the role of the meeting facilitator is critically underrated. In this step, you arrange a workshop, where the meeting facilitators from different decision-meetings come together. The goal is to develop a generic best practice across decision-meetings in the organization, and the output should include a plan for implementing this practice.
DecisionCaddy has held a great number of workshops like this, and they suggest that you decide on the best practices in regard to the five important phases of the meeting in the organization.
This step also includes a discussion about how digital tools are used in the different meetings, for example the products of FirstAgenda.
4: Continue to evaluate and coach
As is the case when working with changing any kind of behavior and culture, time is working for you. Keep focus and follow up to ensure that the agreed best practices become the new norm, and coach meeting participants and facilitators who fail to live up to the agreed best practices.
Do you want to learn more about how to optimize the meeting process?
In the webinar DecisionCaddy take you through their best practice in the five phases of "planning", “preparing”, “executing”, “communication”, and “follow up”. You’ll learn a framework with specific tools that enables you to improve the recurring meetings in your team or organization. The webinar is for you who facilitate decision-meetings.