Designing your Large Meeting: A Key Decision

Summertime has turned the corner to the rapid-fire activities of Fall. And we’re thinking of you with a large, upcoming, important, strategic meeting on your mind.

Issues, topics, speakers, messages, schedules … sharpening into focus.

You may be facing some of these challenges …

  • How to engage your people in the audience on a new strategy
  • How to ask for and collect their best thinking on some tough issues
  • How to get the group aligned on a critical implementation plan
  • How to get a visible return for your meeting investment

What if you could count on these results?

  • Your audience turned into lively participants
  • You walked away with an extensive list of their best thinking
  • You created understanding and alignment, and were able to check for it
  • Your ROI is assured: participants are motivated, have internalized the strategy and are ready for action
  • As you think about your meeting, you might try asking yourself: Will it be designed like many times before (presentations, Q&A, breakouts, etc.) or is something new required that is more strategic for the organization and interesting for the participants?

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Covision’s “Integrated Participation” methodology

Covision’s “Integrated Participation” methodology

Another excellent partnership with AmericaSpeaks

We just returned from doing the Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism National Town Hall in Chicago on Friday. This meeting brought together professionals, family members and policy makers to have a conversation and agree on strategies for providing services over the next two decades to the more than one million youths who are diagnosed with autism and who will then be moving into adulthood. This is a situation of enormous impact for our society that will require a notion-wide response.

More than 1,000 people participated in the meeting, using three different modes.

Chicago was the major site. By concentrating about 30% of the participants there, we were able to provide a focal point. Important leaders in this process were there, along with dignitaries (Mayor and Mrs. Daly), and the press. The live presentations took place in Chicago. The participants discussed the issues at tables of ten and sent their thoughts in over networked computers. They voted their priorities with keypads.

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Using iPads at Meetings – Beyond the Flash, Realizing True Engagement Value

Engaging Large GroupsThe latest gizmo to hit the conference scene … the iPad!

With hundreds of apps at the ready, iPads are slick, portable and cool!  Not to mention “green” – you can now go paperless with personalized meeting agendas, speaker and participant bios, hotel maps and other content pre-loaded for a “Jetsons” style conference experience.

But wait …. you are interested in creating an extraordinary participant experience — one that is interactive, engaging, and provides an opportunity to tap into the wisdom of the crowd.  Your focus is on the meeting process, outcomes and benefits of gathering people together to create something new that could not otherwise happen without being together. Continue reading

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Applying the Lessons of Neuroscience to Create Effective Meetings

The 2010 Organization Development Network conference held in New Orleans brought together the latest thinking in neuroscience, large-group methodologies, employee engagement and leadership development.  And those were just the sessions I attended!

These theories are not only “foundational” to the field of transformation, but they are rapidly evolving (revolutionizing!) the way we conduct meetings, make decisions and lead.

Why?  Because when these theories are put into action, they have a positive impact on outcomes, quality of decisions and are a key to sustainable, long-term success.

As a consultant, being able to connect why I advise my clients on highly participatory meetings to neuroscience enables me to move from perceived “soft skills” to hard science. Providing a short article or a book on “why it matters” lessens their concern (“will this go well and will I look good?”) and elevates their trust in me as their advisor (creating relatedness). And I get to impact the changes my clients want – with velocity and while empowering them.
Lets take a look at one of the key theories and how applying it can make the difference. Continue reading

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Public Voice on National Agenda

Inside the laboratory

CoVision worked in partnership with AmericaSpeaks to pull off another ambitious and unprecedented experiment in citizen democracy in the United States. It was our great honor to be part of a successful, cutting edge, proof-of-concept national convening that now stands as a living example of the potential role of citizen deliberation to inform national decision-making.

On this Saturday, June 26, 2010, 3,300 citizens in nearly 60 different locations across the country held a conversation on fiscal strategy. Like many other countries around the world, the United States needs to take action on its federal deficit and chart a course for a sustainable economic future. The event that took place on Saturday holds out the hope – through successful demonstration – that such a strategy can be effectively designed in coordination with the real sentiments, values and choices of the citizenry. The results of this massive citizen deliberation can be viewed at:

http://usabudgetdiscussion.org/our-budget-our-economy-june-26/

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It’s Not About the Technology in Large Group Meetings

Why the CoVision method is not primarily a technological method.

 

The CoVision method is not about the use of technology, it is about the use of a “Micro-breakout” format. What distinguishes the CoVision methodology most from other large group methodologies are two things: the use of brief, very small group “micro-breakout” discussions in the plenary room; and the rapid synthesis of the input from those discussions into a digestible synopsis that can be immediately shared with the whole group and responded to from the stage.

Technology enables this methodology, but it is a mistake to think of it as primarily a technological method. The dramatic results that can be achieved through the CoVision method depend on understanding how to effectively exploit the “micro-breakout” discussion and synthesis capability. Understanding the technology is not what produces breakthrough results in meetings.

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Incorporating 5 Dynamics Into Good Meeting Design

Why do some meetings feel dull and heavy – like an unwanted obligation, while others feel exciting, and are a catalyst to action?

We were recently introduced to a sort of “human energetics model” that may put some perspective on meeting design issues. The tool is called Five Dynamics (www.5dynamics.com) and we learned about if from a friend and client who was responsible for the design of a senior leadership meeting we supported at the end of 2009.

The brief version of Five Dynamics is that it breaks the Performance Cycle of any project, initiative or strategy into five stages: Explore, Excite, Examine, Execute, Evaluate.

First Dynamic – Explore: Perceiving; option-oriented thinking

Second Dynamic – Excite: Inspiring; energizing others

Third Dynamic – Examine: Planning; building structure

Fourth Dynamic – Execute: Acting; turning the plan into reality

Fifth Dynamic – Evaluate

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E Pluribus Unum

Pioneering a citizen engagement model for large democratic societies

The difficulty of democracy is how to let people deliberate, and yet come to a common voice. This is inherently a problem of scale – the more people you have (and the less time they have together), the more likely you are to give up either the opportunity for the individual to express him/herself, or the experience of the group coming to a deliberated group decision.

To overcome this difficulty, AmericaSpeaks, a small non-profit with a vast and growing network, has created a methodology for taking essential democratic processes to scale.
They have been the true visionaries in this field. Over the last ten years they have sought out and secured the laboratories, and they have conducted the experiments, so that those coming after them have a model for enabling large numbers of citizens to engage in deliberative democratic processes – processes as essential to a democracy as voting itself.
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CoVision’s “Integrated Participation” methodology

Another excellent partnership with AmericaSpeaks

We just returned from supporting the Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism National Town Hall in Chicago on Friday. This meeting brought together professionals, family members and policy makers to have a conversation and agree on strategies for providing services over the next two decades to the more than one million youths who are diagnosed with autism and who will soon be moving into adulthood. This is a situation of enormous impact for our society that will require a nation-wide response.

More than 1,000 people participated in the meeting, using three different “modes”.

Chicago was the central site. By concentrating about 30% of the participants there, we were able to provide a focal point. Important leaders in this process were there, along with dignitaries (the Mayor and Mrs. Daly), and the press. The live presentations took place in Chicago. The participants, seated at tables of ten, discussed the issues and sent their thoughts in over networked computers. They voted their priorities with keypad polling devices.

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New Frontiers in Facilitating Interactive Meetings – Remotely

Covision Goes To Work at Midnight, in Pajamas!

As part of a continuing trend of work in Europe, we recently got invited to bring our CoVision engagement methodology into a Cocoa Innovation session for the Dutch government in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Stakeholders from around the world participated in a three hour think tank /brainstorming session to develop innovative solutions for transforming world cocoa production into a certified and sustainable system.

This session was part of a larger day-long symposium on sustainable trade … BUT the conveners couldn’t afford to fly us to Europe for a three hour session. So the challenge was … could we, somehow, deliver any form of our method from California?

We worked out a unique combination of technologies that allowed us to facilitate the interactive processes of the meeting in real time (which for us was midnight to 3am) from our homes in California.

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