Статья дает рекомендации, как превратить безрезультатные и изматывающие встречи в неформальные переговоры. Разграничивая эти понятия, автор считает, что переговоры активизируют креативность и умственные способности людей, и дает несколько рекомендаций для тех, кто желает опробовать такой стиль переговоров: пригласить новых людей из разных сфер организации, в том числе из нижних ступеней иерархии, особенно молодежь; заменить повестку дня на вопросы; разрешить свободное перемещений по комнате и работать в группах; отражать идеи диалогов на доске.
I once knew a consultant who was hired by a major corporation at the senior level. Within days of his arrival, his diary was filled with appointments and meetings that he knew nothing about and over which he had no control. He wanted nothing more than to attend to this mandate, but instead he found his days filled up by pointless meetings that had little to do with the bigger strategic picture.
If you're anything like this executive, you'd probably be glad to skip most of the meetings you're called to. They soak up too much of your time. They are too formal and filled with data-focused PowerPoint presentations. (In one corporation I know of, the average presentation for strategy sessions in a single business unit is over 400 slides long.) And nobody addresses the real issues; they nit-pick and criticize instead. The net effect: everyone's imagination is suffocated, and they lose sight of the big picture. When that happens, organizations run the risk of failure.
The best way to energize thinking is to hold conversations rather than meetings. In our personal lives, we are used to talking openly with one another, but most organizations have failed to capitalize on the power of conversation in a business setting. So how does a conversation differ from a meeting?
A conversation is informal. As the great German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer said, you only have a conversation when you don't know the outcome at the beginning. Think about a conversation you have with a friend over a cup of coffee. It flows from one topic to another; ideas spark spontaneously. A conversation is alive and interesting, and sometimes even a little dangerous.
A conversation is a creative process. A conversation is not about walking through an agenda. It is a journey that takes people through the full range of thinking, not just a problem at hand. In a conversation, people explore issues, invent solutions, and find ways forward through messy circumstances. (The broad scope of a conversation differentiates it from "brainstorming," which only focuses on generating solutions. Brainstorming can't help you address wicked problems like a military engagement in Afghanistan or a messy merger.)
A conversation is democratic. In a conversation, no single person holds forth while everyone else nods sleepily. Instead, the dialogue bounces around the room as participants design a new idea together.
Obviously, if you are the kind of manager who likes to control the agenda and who dislikes surprises, the prospect of an informal conversation is a little scary. So I propose an experiment. Next time you want to gather your team to talk about a potential new product or service, try the following. You don't have to commit to doing it all the time; just try it once or twice to see what happens. The point is to try to activate the creative, right-brain intelligence in people. Ready?
Of course, I am not arguing that an organization should throw out all of its agenda-driven process meetings and replace them with conversations. But by holding more conversations and fewer meetings, you will find that people begin to solve your company's wickedest problems faster, and in a richer way. And instead of complaining about being bored to death, people will talk about how much fun they've had.
Have you held a conversation in your company? How did it differ from a meeting?
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