Book Notes: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!: Ten Principles for Leading Meetings That Matter by Marvin Ross Weisbord, Sandra Janoff & Jack MacNeish
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We spend a lot of time in meetings so making them more effective will likely greatly improve the performance of bussiness, however people are rarely taught how to run meetings well.

  1. Get the whole system in the room
    • Who should be in the meeting
      • The decision makers
      • Data – contracts, time or money
      • Expertise in the issue or field
      • Information about the topic (where the expertise is missing)
      • Affected parties who can speak of the consequences
    • Match the timeframe to the agenda
    • Give people time to express themselves
    • Differentiate then integrate
      • Differentiate into functionally similar groups to clarify their stakes
      • Integrate with the whole group or mixed groups
    • Where it is not possible to get the whole system ensure you have at least three levels and three functions. Providing access to other functions and levels speeds up the whole system.
  2. Control What You Can, Let Go What You Can’t
    • Know your role – Do you have content? Are you managing the meeting?
      • No No – You are only observing and commenting
      • Yes No – You are likely an expert who is providing advice
      • No Yes – You are facilitating the meeting
      • Yes Yes – You assume great deal of responsibility for process, content and results.
    • Clarify the purpose yourself
    • Monitor the meeting
      • Seek fight or flight
      • Check for someone being excluded
      • Arrange seating for the style
      • Establish time management norms in breaks
  3. Explore the “Whole Elephant”
    • A “go around” – get input from everyone who wants to contribute
    • Use timelines – get all the history from the many peoples views
    • Make a mind map – get all the points out so people have a common view
    • Group flowchart – get all the flows e.g. processes on the table so their is common understanding of the environment
  4. Let People Be Responsible
    • Accept everyone is doing their best
    • If people have hidden agendas that is their choice
    • Do less so others will do more
    • Encourage self management
    • Contain your “hot buttons”
    • Encourage dialogue
    • Legitimise opposition in tense meetings
  5. Find Common Ground
    • Hold off problem solving
    • Get conflicts into the open and leave them there
    • Focus on the future
    • Back cast from the future
    • Stay with anxiety and ambiguity
    • Depersonalise conflict
  6. Master the Art of Subgrouping
    • Ask “anyone else … ?”
    • Differentiate then integrate
    • Listen for integrating statements
  7. Make Friends with Anxiety
    • The four rooms of change
      • Contentment
      • Denial
      • Confusion
      • Renewal
  8. Get Used to Projections
    • View things in perception not in objects by making yourself the subject. such as It this and that become I or me. e.g. “I’m bored” is “I bore me”.
  9. Be a Dependable Authority
    • Everyone reacts to authority – could be good or bad
    • Recognise dependency – going along with everything
    • Recognise counterdependency – not happy with everything
  10. Learn to Say No If You Want Yes to Mean Something
    • Be dependable only commit to things which will be done and no to the rest

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