Meetings are where we intend to move things forward and strengthen trust.  In many scenarios, however, meetings feature the organizational dysfunction that causes people to become disengaged.  Gino Wickman’s book Traction highlights what he calls a Level 10 Meeting as in 10/10 satisfaction.  He calls a Level 10 Meeting the antidote to the typical 3-4/10 that many business people rate their meetings.  Our approach dating back to the 1980s correlates with Wickman’s excellent model in many ways, but we offer a focus on positivity that we believe is crucial to deepening trust.

Our approach works well with regular leadership or management team meetings, and also with more narrowly defined project team meetings with a clearly defined deliverable or mission.  Positive Momentum Meetings (PMM) are structured to continuously build on what’s working and course correct anything that is not working without blame or criticism.  PMMs assume, or ask you to develop, clarity regarding your vision, your mission, and/or your annual goals.  It ideally involves a scorecard with every member, individually or collectively, owning the numbers that define success.
Every content oriented conversation in a PPM ends with an answer to, “So, who will do what by when?” and the meeting recorder captures the action items and updates the Outstanding Commitments list after each meeting.  This is important because the real value of any meeting is what actually occurs as a result of, and after, the meeting is over  The practice of every person taking their own notes and not reviewing a consolidated list to begin the next meeting may seem like a respectful approach as it assumes trust; but our experience indicates that trust grows and more is accomplished with the group discipline we offer below.

Positive Momentum Meetings are often weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly for 90 minutes – with a designated facilitator to keep the group on track, a recorder to write down the specific commitments and provide the scorecard data, and this agenda:

  1. Good news – 5 minutes – everyone shares a personal and/or business success (30-60 seconds each)
  2. Review of Team Scorecard – where each person owns the numbers that are leading indicators to success, as opposed to after-the-fact P&L numbers (5 minutes)
  3. Review of the Outstanding Commitments List made in prior meeting(s) regarding the actions taken on by individuals to address problems or priorities; participants declare “done” or “not done” without discussion/stories (5 minutes)
  4. Incomplete priorities are put on today’s list and discussed until new commitments are made with brief but powerful conversations to build positive momentum with support from team members and without criticism. (time allotment unknown but decreases as you get the right people in the right seats who want to be accountable for personal excellence and team success)
  5. New Priorities (agreed upon earlier) that have been awaiting best timing or someone’s bandwidth, or have surfaced with recent developments (submitted to facilitator before the meeting) are discussed until appropriate commitments are made to be added to the Outstanding Commitment List – this is where real problems are effectively resolved until the team arrives at “who will do what by when?” with at least a partial but specific deliverable due by the following meeting.  And the recorder captures it to everyone’s satisfaction. (Ideally 60 minutes or more and continues until 5 minutes remaining in the meeting)
  6. Session Evaluation – what and/or whose contribution was most valuable to you in today’s meeting and how can we improve future sessions?

The facilitator’s role is critical. S(he) sets a positive tone for the conversation so there is a balance between “no-nonsense accountability to what we are all committed to,” and “the reality that people need to feel safe to acknowledge their missed commitments and learn from their mistakes.”  Trust and mutual respect grow when teams perform at high levels while allowing people to be comfortable in their own skin when corrective action is needed to recover positive momentum.

Laughter here and there can be a signal that the team has elevated its own culture beyond a politically-driven dynamic where there is no room for authenticity or vulnerability.  Results occur, trust grows, and people look forward to these types of meetings. It feels empowering to see meaningful decisions and actions come to life. Bottom line, everyone wants to be on a winning team.  The leader’s role is simply to ensure all of this actually happens every time the team gathers together!

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