An important part, perhaps the most important, of a leader’s work takes place in meetings. For many the day consist of back-to-back meetings, sometimes from morning to evening. The meeting is our most important platform to drive development, create movement and gaining consensus in the solutions we choose.
Some meetings go fast and easy, especially when they consist of only like-minded people and when the agenda benefits our common goal. But when different interests collide and opinions about what is the best solution, loud and lively discussions often arise instead. A duel like situation about who is right and who has the best solution and who’s KPI is the most important to fulfill takes over the meeting. The other people invited to the meeting lose the interest to participate and start to check their phones and emails instead. Such inefficient meetings create neither activities, strengthen the team spirit nor contribute to solutions with particularly high acceptance, if there are even any solutions. Instead, they contribute to an increased polarization, friction and a low commitment that is deeply etched in the corporate culture. Sometimes coworkers express some opposition to take part in meetings and their expectations before meetings remain low.
It is strange that we allow this behavior to continue day in and day out. The logical approach would be to try to do something different. So, instead, let the meetings be the best tool to drive and create a more involving, motivating, and solution-oriented culture, by designing a more efficient meeting structure where everyone is involved and the acceptance for the solution remains high.
The basic idea of the COD meeting is to handle meetings in a way that guarantees involvement, make them efficient, ensures understanding and contribution of all the participant and enriches the culture. A meeting that follows the COD methodology follows a clear structure to make sure that the company raises its standards. The structure creates security by having a predictable meeting, and it makes leaders understand the value of different perspectives. The meeting is the arena for creating a common vision and for making common decisions where both understanding, and participation are to be taken for granted.
The COD meeting is focused on finding solutions to important problems, problems that can be defined as gaps.
- The leader of the meeting needs to start the meeting by defining the background, using facts to clarify the situation having led to an unsolved issue or the lack of a good solution. Previously tried efforts need to be mentioned in order to avoid them reappearing as suggestions. Finally, it is important to allow questions from the other participants, to ensure they understand the context.
- To involve people, we need to ask questions, and in order to involve people to find solutions we need to ask open questions. Questions should be formulated in a way that ensure that the answer will contribute to closing the gap and invite everybody’s contribution. Start the question with HOW, or possibly WHAT. Avoid yes or no questions, questions about opinions and that contain who, what or why. In a COD meeting the question is directed towards the people in the room. Behind this stands the clear idea to ask people to solve the questions which they are supposed to solve anyway.
- To ensure that all perspectives are validated the leader of the meeting asks each participant to think about and write down their suggestions for solutions individually, without allowing anyone to answer the question out loud right away.
- By working in a predictable and disciplined manner the leader ensure that the meeting will be conducted in a controlled way. When gathering all the participants suggestions for a solution start by asking one person to name their first suggestion in a brief and concise way. Then move on to the next person and continue around the table. Write down the things that are being said and be completely neutral. Asking questions and involving people into decision making means that the leader gives up his / her privilege to be the decider of all major issues. Therefore, it is the leader’s responsibility to secure the quality of the decision-making process.
- When all the suggestions are gathered from the participants let everyone explain how their suggestion answers the question and contributes to closing the gap.
- At meetings where decisions are made, prioritize the best solutions that will be dealt with first. The selection takes place either through a normal discussion involving everyone or by vote where every person chooses his or her top three suggestions.
- When common priorities are decided upon, concise actions to support the solutions need to be identified. The leader of the meeting is responsible to ensure that everyone involved understand what should do be done by who until the next time you meet. Finally, the decisions and actions need to be well documented in for example a log list.
- The operative pressure and the daily work have a great tendency to take up all our attention and resources. To make sure that the actions agreed on are executed and all the proactive activities do not become victims of urgency it is important to set an infrastructure that ensures a successful path towards the solutions decided on in the meeting. The COD infrastructure compromises the two most important factors for a successful development process. One of the factors is the emotional infrastructure, which creates the positive work climate necessary to achieve good results. The other factor is the intellectual infrastructure, which is about creating capacity and credibility for implementation and execution.
After a few meetings in this way, when you have started to grasp the craft itself, you will immediately experience that the meetings become more inspiring, efficient, and really engaging as all the participants want to listen to everyone. The leader but also all participants will receive new ideas and suggestions that will increase the possibilities of finding activities that can close the gap that was the reason for the meeting. This proves, that when we utilize the fact that we all have different perspectives of things, in the right way, we will see a complementary force in finding the best solution. The atmosphere in such meeting is characterized by respect and kindness, as the rules make sure that everyone is heard and that there is no space for confrontation or polarization. Apart from these advantages the team’s acceptance for what is decided will be significantly higher and the understanding of the solution is secured by the procedure which creates the necessary conditions for real commitment in the development process.
Bear in mind that the best solution is the one with the most common acceptance:
SOLUTION X ACCEPTANCE = RESULT