Friday, 6 December 2013

Meeting Protocol and Context switching games

My team is going through a big integration stage and it is showing to be really complex situation. A lot of people are involved, they make plans and have meetings.
I am seeing a couple of problems:
- Meetings becoming a big waste of time
- Everyone multitasking

So we had a Lunch&Learn today and I played two games. One of them, The Meeting protocol, is something I came up with Gino Marckx, after his "Core protocols" session he had with the coaches last Friday. I put down here the plot and personas we came up with. It ended up really fun and they actually thought that Alignment Check was a good idea. Check-out did feel a bit rude for them (!) so they think they should rather say "I am ok now and got what I needed out of this meeting " not "I'm checking out". Also, when someone starts using phone or laptop during the meeting, they either say "I'm checking out" or someone will ask "Have you checked out?".
One thing was interesting during the acting. The guy that picked the Martin persona, did not get on the role at all. He continued being himself. So someone else jumped and asked: Can I act your role?. They agreed and I have to say that the second actor did a better job at the end.
According to some statistics about meetings, they have found that 55% of meeting is dominated by 2 people. This was really clear, Mary and Sam were constantly talking while Barb and Jane were more vocal during Alignment check. So Alignment check is a good technique to get the feedback from the quiet people during the meeting.

The other game was the Context Switching game.  We did not have much time for the Context switching so we played only the multiplication by 3 and Alphabet (skipped the multiplication by 5). I think even that was good enough to bring up the point and see the time spent between switching the tasks. It felt painful for the non participants to see how much the participants were trying to get back to where they left, so they started helping! Still, some parents with teenagers, think that listening music and doing home work, might not be bad. Maybe. At the end listening music does not request your envolvment/response/act on something. It's between texting and studying that the problem is. Let's see how this game will be received when they go home and play it with their teenagers. At least, parents are getting some learning out of it (and that's what I really care :) )

At the end, everyone enjoyed it and I heard one comment saying "This is the most fun I have had since I started this project"


Will ask for 4 people to volunteer and pick one piece of paper where there is a profile of the person they will act. Will give them some time to read their personas and answer any question, without revealing much of the plot
Facilitator will start the meeting with a quick check-in.
         -    “I am a bit tired but glad that holidays are almost here. How about you?”  
-  Give time to everyone to do a check-in quickly
Facilitator will continue with:
          -  We are having this meeting to come up with a solution about a team party for holidays. I have no ideas so far so I need your help.
Expected that at this point Susan will start talking.

Around minute 10, Facilitator to remind Mary to bring up the new idea about photo booth, by pushing a piece of paper to her: “Mary realizes that a positive event like the one she wants to have is a great opportunity for capturing 'fun times' with the team. So she adds an objective to her desired outcomes. Mary adds something like: I want a photo booth (or something similar) to allow people to take a souvenir of the party home. 

Facilitator keeps track of conversation and whenever notices that people are stuck/not aligning with resolution will do an alignment check by saying:
         -   On a scale from 1 to 10, how do you feel so far with the objectives you have for this meeting?
- Ask the person with the lowest score “How can we help you to get closer to 10?”

Meeting will be timeboxed to 20 minutes.
At the end of the exercise, Facilitator will point out the techniques used:
-          Check-in
-          Stating the meeting objective
-          Alignment check

Personas are created with two names, to cover cases when a female picks up the persona belonging to a male and vice versa.

Susan (or Sam)
She is extrovert by nature, always looking for ways to generate energy. She is usually the first to start a discussion and has strong opinions on how things should be done/ resolved. Sometimes, when people are proposing solutions that do not match her thinking, she might interrupt and point out what might be wrong with that thinking and what else can be done.
Susan needs to manage the budget, so she wants this party to cost as little as possible. She is adamant that there needs to be a party, though, even though to her it's just a must-do thing, she is not terribly passionate about it. But not having a party is not an option. 
 When people bring up ideas that will increase the cost for the party, she comes up with options that are more economic (like potluck, or order pizza).
Susan reaches her objectives when there is a party and she is confident that it can be done at a reasonable cost.

Susan’s objective for this meeting:
"I want a team event where everyone shows up and the party doesn't cost us too much."

Bill (or Barb)
He is quiet, smart and very detail oriented. He wants to have a perfect party, where everything is taken care off and there will be something for everyone. Bill is always keen on helping other people organize things, so he will likely end up volunteering to find a venue, order food, drinks, name it... but in order to do so, he wants to have everything carefully planned out.
For every idea that comes on the table, he asks details like what food to order to consider allergies, what drinks to have, from what time until when, will there be dress code, etc. 
Bill reaches his objectives when he has a clear plan with sufficient detail for him to walk away and organize the party, either alone or with help. 

Bill’s outcome for this meeting:
I want to come out of this meeting with a good understanding of the party plan and some action items where to begin with the party organization tasks.

Mary (or Martin)
She is an introvert by nature. She doesn't speak often, but when she does, her opinions are strong and show a ton of wisdom. She really cares about the team and feels that the event needs to be fun for everyone. She does not see value in a party for the sake of a party, she wants the team to walk away feeling they spend valuable time together and come out as a stronger team. 
After about 10 minutes, Mary realizes that a positive event like the one she wants to have is a great opportunity for capturing 'fun times' with the team. So she adds an objective to her desired outcomes. Mary adds something like: I want a photo booth or something like that to allow people to take a souvenir of the party home. 
Mary reaches her objectives when she feels there is a plan for an event where everyone can have fun and can take a souvenir back home. 

Mary's objective for the meeting is:
I want the event to allow us to really connect as a team and be fun for everyone. 

John (or Jane)
He is a social guy, he is interested in an event, but doesn't really have a strong opinion on what needs to happen. He supports everyone in getting their objectives and just wants to get this party organized so he can hangout with everyone in a non-work related setting. He realizes that all other participants need to buy in to make it happen. 
John reaches his objectives when all other meeting participants have reached theirs.

John's meeting objective is:
I want Susan, Bill and Mary to get what they want. 


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