workshops work

026 - How to design meetings that we love to attend - with Gustavo Razzetti

September 18, 2019 Dr Myriam Hadnes Season 2 Episode 26
workshops work
026 - How to design meetings that we love to attend - with Gustavo Razzetti
Chapters
workshops work
026 - How to design meetings that we love to attend - with Gustavo Razzetti
Sep 18, 2019 Season 2 Episode 26
Dr Myriam Hadnes

In this episode, I talk to Gustavo Razzetti, a speaker, author, change facilitator and the founder of Liberationist. He is an active blogger and has written over 400 articles on change, on leadership and team development.

We speak about organizational and behavioural change, about leadership and about meetings that are an integral part of a change process. We discuss the difference between meetings and workshops and how you stop having meetings on auto-pilot.  

Gustavo shares his concept of workshops being a tool for experimenting and practising new behaviours. And along these lines, he shares some of his favourite exercises that you can apply in regular meetings and which will help to foster communication across hierarchies.  

Don’t miss the part when Gustavo shares his advice to new team leaders how to plan their first meetings and inventories existing routines. 

You can find the main takeaways on the podcast webpage: www.workshops.work And: Don't miss the next show: Subscribe to my newsletter or on iTunes or Spotify to get notified for new episodes.

Questions and Answers

[3:23] What do you mean when you call yourself a “change instigator” and to what extent is it different from a “change consultant”?

[4:34] How much will do you need from the organisation to really drive the change?

[5:53] What do you think is the biggest misconception of change?

[8:15] How do you help leaders to find comfort in this uncertainty? 

[10:16] What does it take for a leader to trust their team?

[20:48] What is the key difference between a meeting and a workshop according to you?

[23:39] If you could change one thing in the way how organizations meet, what would you change?

[24:53] What is according to you, the best strategy to get out of autopilot?

[26:28] How do you get everyone to speak? 

[29:58] How do you avoid auto-pilot in recurrent meetings that tend to follow the same structure every week?

[32:16] Do you believe in virtual meetings?

[36:48] Do you think this is related to the safe space? 

[38:11] What would be your advice to a new team leader to have meetings that matter?

[41:15] How important do you consider courage for a team lead or for team leaders to be good meeting facilitators?

[47:03] What makes workshops fail according to you?

[49:19] What is your favourite exercise?

[53:27] How do you build the pairs of two?

[55:30] Anything you would like to share that we haven't touched upon?

[56:09] Would you have this conversation with a team? 

[57:12] When did you start calling yourself a facilitator?

[1:00:32] What do you want the audience to remember?

Related links you may want to check out:

Connect to Gustavo on LinkedIn  

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I talk to Gustavo Razzetti, a speaker, author, change facilitator and the founder of Liberationist. He is an active blogger and has written over 400 articles on change, on leadership and team development.

We speak about organizational and behavioural change, about leadership and about meetings that are an integral part of a change process. We discuss the difference between meetings and workshops and how you stop having meetings on auto-pilot.  

Gustavo shares his concept of workshops being a tool for experimenting and practising new behaviours. And along these lines, he shares some of his favourite exercises that you can apply in regular meetings and which will help to foster communication across hierarchies.  

Don’t miss the part when Gustavo shares his advice to new team leaders how to plan their first meetings and inventories existing routines. 

You can find the main takeaways on the podcast webpage: www.workshops.work And: Don't miss the next show: Subscribe to my newsletter or on iTunes or Spotify to get notified for new episodes.

Questions and Answers

[3:23] What do you mean when you call yourself a “change instigator” and to what extent is it different from a “change consultant”?

[4:34] How much will do you need from the organisation to really drive the change?

[5:53] What do you think is the biggest misconception of change?

[8:15] How do you help leaders to find comfort in this uncertainty? 

[10:16] What does it take for a leader to trust their team?

[20:48] What is the key difference between a meeting and a workshop according to you?

[23:39] If you could change one thing in the way how organizations meet, what would you change?

[24:53] What is according to you, the best strategy to get out of autopilot?

[26:28] How do you get everyone to speak? 

[29:58] How do you avoid auto-pilot in recurrent meetings that tend to follow the same structure every week?

[32:16] Do you believe in virtual meetings?

[36:48] Do you think this is related to the safe space? 

[38:11] What would be your advice to a new team leader to have meetings that matter?

[41:15] How important do you consider courage for a team lead or for team leaders to be good meeting facilitators?

[47:03] What makes workshops fail according to you?

[49:19] What is your favourite exercise?

[53:27] How do you build the pairs of two?

[55:30] Anything you would like to share that we haven't touched upon?

[56:09] Would you have this conversation with a team? 

[57:12] When did you start calling yourself a facilitator?

[1:00:32] What do you want the audience to remember?

Related links you may want to check out:

Connect to Gustavo on LinkedIn  

Intro:

What does it take to make a workshop work? How can we facilitate collaboration that actually sticks and leads to results? My name is Myriam Hadnes and it is my mission to help you to make workshops work. So today with me on the show is Gustavo Razzetti, a speaker, author, change facilitator and the founder of Liberationist. He is a very active bloggers, he has written over 400 articles on change, on leadership and on meetings. So in today's conversation we talk about meetings and what we can do to actually get out of the autopilot routine that makes meetings, drag energy and be a waste of time - or at least perceived as a waste of time. And we talk a lot about change and how change happens and how change happens through meetings and how we can make it better. So stay tuned.

Myriam:

Hello Gustavo.

Gustavo:

Hello, how are you?

Myriam:

I am very well. I am about to leave on holidays, so, I'm very relaxed and looking forward to our conversation. How are you?

Gustavo:

Absolutely. I'm doing great. Thank you for inviting me and I think it's awesome that we're going to talk about meetings right before your vacation.

Myriam:

Exactly. From all the meetings you had. Exactly. I definitely need that. I'm quite excited to have this conversation with you and have you on the podcast because I am such a huge fan of your blog. And when you sent the message on LinkedIn that you would be happy to join the podcast. I couldn't believe it.

Gustavo:

You know, serendipity. Yeah.

Myriam:

Yes, yes, yes. And there would have been a million topics I think - to talk to you about and maybe the most prominent one would have been change. And still, I fell in love with your never ending article about meetings. So I thought you must be the meeting specialist despite the "change instigator" title.

Gustavo:

No, of course. I mean, I, I don't think I'm an expert. No. As an expert world, try to make meetings better and make, I mean the success of our meeting depends some facilitation depends on having a clear purpose, but also method. And one thing that's important when we're trying to address and ignite and accelerate change, at an organizational level meetings play a very important role. No, because it's about having conversations about having people collaborating, working together. So I think the most important shift, is to move from meetings being a burden and something that I need to attend and maybe attend a meeting by inertia, you know. Why are we having this meeting? Let's start questioning the meetings that we have. Do we really need to have them? Can we make them more interesting or can we make them shorter? And also that's part of the change too, right? How we work together

Myriam:

and we're already jumping right into the topic and I love it. And I still have one question that I need to ask before everything because on your LinkedIn profile you call yourself a "change instigator". What do you mean by that? And to what extent is it different from a change consultant?

Gustavo:

Two things. The word "consultant" that you bring in - can feel that someone that gets paid to do things and they're gonna try to bill you as many hours as possible.

Myriam:

To tell others what to do.

Gustavo:

It's never bad, but I think that they know that people talk about being changed, a facilitators or change leaders. And I think that when you say that you are a change leader, it feels that you are leading the change and people are following. And for me change is like a fire. You, my kids are trying to [inaudible] one who, who starts it that's why clients bring me to their organizations. But then I want to make sure that the rest of the team continue to become a change instigator. I propagate that passion to become more innovative.

Myriam:

So how much willingness do you need in the first place to really drive the change? Because I found on your website you have a template for how to design culture, no, a culture design canvas. So, can you design a change or does it really need to already to have an ember in the organization?

Gustavo:

I think that designing doesn't mean that you structure it and we find everything. So designing when it comes to the culture is we need to agree on what's our purpose as a team or organization. Where are the behaviors that are accepted and should be rewarded? What are the behaviors that we all want to accept as a team are gonna hinder innovation? So that's basically defining certain parameters. And for example, meetings, how are we gonna meet? How often? What for? Where are the team rituals that bring us together, how do we celebrate? How do we embrace mistakes and failure and learn from that? So setting certain practices and, and, and beliefs is not shaping everything in advance because I think that to your point, you maybe find the overall longterm purpose. No, let's say I want to go to Amsterdam. Okay, I know that that's the destination, but how I'm going to get there, how long it's going to take, how painful a job is, you never know in advance. So you start setting different tasks and small projects and changes to get there.

Myriam:

So what do you think is the biggest misconception of change? Especially when you think, okay, I want to go there. Everyone wants to go somewhere. But usually we only realize along the way how painful it is.

Gustavo:

Yeah, I would say it's painful but not harmful. You know, I think that sometimes we make change harder than it should because of course if we consultants and bosses tell the rest of the team that "Oh change is hard". Then when it fails we have an excuse because our ritual, it's hard and at second sell plenty means that it's going to take more money, more time to make things happen. I think change is not easy either, but it's more natural than we actually think. You know, we are by design change animals. I mean we grow our hair, our body babies learn how to walk and no one teaches them. I mean parents try to, but I mean they, they learned on their own. They fall they get up they fall, they get up and at some point is, you know, it hurts so much so I better start walking.

Gustavo:

So the fear it out and, and that's something. And the second part, using the same metaphor of babies, I think that we think that change is something that we can control, that we can control people, but we can't. So when parents, and I don't know if have you seen this when parents are teaching a kid or a baby, how to walk? Yeah. One parent holding the baby and the other one on the opposite direction. Probably at the very beginning they really walk in a straight line because that's how he's trained. And also because he wants someone to hold him so that he doesn't fall or she doesn't fall, but it once the baby starts walking, she's not going toward the other parent. You got to go wherever the baby wants. So that's something about leaders should motivate and give people the right condition and culture for people to walk on their own, but they're going to go wherever they want. So finding that balance, you know what I mean? That's basically the the, so the purpose is I want people to walk, but how they want to walk? How often? That's something that unfortunately, you have to let people choose.

Myriam:

So how do you help leaders to find comfort in this? Because it's a huge uncertainty for a leader, right? To say, okay, the change is going to happen, but I have to trust basically the organization that they will find a way in how to live and drive and maintain this change.

Gustavo:

Yeah. I think that first we need to change the paradigm, you know, like freedom or autonomy. It's the other side of the coin of responsibility and accountability. Control. On one hand it's another coin and on the other side of control, what you have is blame. So when I'm being controlled, that means that someone's going to be punished if things don't go well, that means that then we set a culture of blame not of accountability. So when you have a lot of rules, a lot of control, a lot of "You have to behave in this way because I'm telling you." Then people become into the blame mindset, which is, oh, either I need to please my boss so I don't get fire or I get that promotion. I get that salary raise. Or if something gets wrong, it wasn't me. Someone else should be blamed for.

Myriam:

Do you think these would be the same people that you mentioned before? Who would also say that it's so difficult just to cover their back? Because if it's difficult then it's they tend to control and then to blame.

Gustavo:

Absolutely. I think that of course, and I work a lot with leaders and your teams first not to shift this mindset from being more control, not more top down, do be more open and delegate more? That's hard, but people realize that the moment they start trusting your team, their team trust them more so it releases them from a lot of pressure if you know what I mean, from a lot of stress because they feel that it's not just on them, but it's on the team to make change happen.

Myriam:

Yeah. I was just wondering because it sounds so easy, you just need to trust your team and I totally hear you and I would probably say the same, but now I'm sitting on the other side. I can ask the question: isn't it easier said than done and what does it take actually for a leader to trust its team.

Gustavo:

I hear you. I mean that's the number one objection. I hear that all the time. So instead of trying to fighting an objection with something rational, because you know, if you believe something, and I tell you no, you shouldn't believe that is like people are not going to change their mind. I tried to focus on practices and exercise to demonstrate how. I always use these, this energy, when you treat your team as adults, they're going to behave like grownups. When you treat your people like kids because they are, you should do these. You should show up at nine o'clock you should eat lunch at that time. When you start telling them all the things they need to do, people behave like children. Yeah. So basically when dad or mom is not present, we're gonna do whatever. When the boss is in the office, we're gonna pretend that we're doing what he wants or she wants.

Gustavo:

So in that sense, I think the first thing is to realizing that if you want ... Trust is a two way street. So if I as a leader don't trust my team, then my team is not going to trust me. That's the first point.

Myriam:

Like in a relationship.

Gustavo:

As in a relationship. And unfortunately, and I read a lot about trust, I did many, many years of research on the topic. You have to take the first step, like in any relationship. In order to gain trust, you need to be trustworthy. You need to embrace, that's the other step. As a leader, you need to embrace your own accountability and vulnerability. So start by sharing your mistakes. Start by owning your mistakes. Let's start by showing that you don't have all the answers because when it comes to making a company more digital and more innovative, we don't know what's going to happen in two years or not even in one year from now or in six months.

Gustavo:

So admitting and acknowledging that you don't have all the answers. Leading more with questions, challenging people. It's gonna earn that trust because people, I mean if you try to know it all, people say who are you? And the contrast. Yeah. The other aspect that is important or some trust shifting from one position to another takes time. So it's not that it's easy said. Yeah, it's easy but it's going to take time until it happens first because changing behavior requires cadence. Second because whenever he say ahhh guys, I'm going to give you more freedom, more autonomy, people are gonna say, yeah, sure, yeah, I'm gonna wait until the first one to it on the face. So they need to see that people are going to start making mistakes. They're going to test you. It had been, I mean I run companies in the past.

Gustavo:

So as a CEO, when saying to the guys more freedom, they were like sure. And I wasn't a super control freak, but still you need to show them and they're going to test you. They are going to push your bottoms to see how far are you willing to go. And the other part, no transition is smooth, so don't expect that change is not ahh let's move from A to Z. No. There's a lot of letters in between and it's up and down. It's messy. It's chaotic. And it's human. So, people when you give them more freedom, let's say when Netflix implemented many years ago, the unlimited vacation policy. So basically any employee could take as many days of vacations as they want. When I say share this with a client, it's Yap, sure. But then no one's going to work. And that's not true. That's not true first because people like the work, their job, most of them, right? Yeah. But if it's a company where you're doing something that is meaningful, is exciting. People don't want to lose it. They want to be there.

Myriam:

Yeah. And they want to participate in the creation of something bigger, so, and they won't, it's, I think, yeah, this extra responsibility that actually motivates us to deliver better work. And the sense of progress. I totally believe in the progress principle.

Gustavo:

Absolutely. And, and, and I think that if you change a policy, maybe at the very beginning, some people are going to say, oh, I'm going to take two many vacation. But then the system adjusts because there is a team members are saying, Hey, I need you to help me out.

Myriam:

There's some peer pressure and I think maybe instinctive that when we are trusted we want to reciprocate. Yeah, it is. As you mentioned before, when the kids are given more responsibility to come home at a certain time or to do stuff, then they will. And I wonder whether it is really instinctive or just learned behavior.

Gustavo:

I think it's a little bit of both. But as human beings, we are social animals, right? We're wired to work as a community, we feel protected. We want recognition. We want to be like part of something bigger than ourselves. So the policies that are more flexible and promote more autonomy basically are built in trusting the team as a whole rather than controlling each of the individuals.

Myriam:

Yeah. Well, but this departs from the premise that you recruit a team that actually can fulfil all the roles and the tasks. You need a well functioning team.

Gustavo:

Yes, you need a well functioning team, but also you need a well functioning culture. Yes. You know what I mean? Like for example, traditionally, like one thing that most companies did is when one person is not performing they see it as an individual issue, right? So basically that person enters a review process that in most of the cases ends in that person being fired

Gustavo:

or put aside and then the person ends quitting because she or he's never going to get a promotion or anything. One thing that Google discovered through research and testing is sometimes changing one person from one team to another completely improve their performance.

Myriam:

Yeah.

Myriam:

So the chemistry within the team, if the team is psychologically safe and they provide a space for that person to experiment and be open to address in, their mistakes. Yeah. Changes notion. So some companies, for example, they have a no firing policy. So they say that no one would ever be fired. That's an extreme. Right. But it's another approach to telling you like, okay, we trust you, we're not going to, there is no, we're going to get rid of people. But on the other hand, if you join you have the pressure to wow, the standard is so great that we need to deliver.

Myriam:

Yeah. It reminds me of the difference in selection process of universities and I always wondered because there are some, for instance in France or in Germany, especially in Germany, they would allow every student to get into the university and then after the first year they just select depending on performance and then in other universities it's very hard to get in. But once you are in, you're assured to get your degree. So the level of collaboration amongst students and the level of commitment and participation and motivation is much higher once you have the safety that the university will do everything it takes for them to graduate because you'll take away this competition that only a few students will actually achieve the goal.

Gustavo:

Yeah. But you start from a "we're all included". So that's collaboration right. Here in the, in the US the system is more individual because it basically told you, you have to make, and you have to, so he still went against everyone. And then when people get into the workplace organization's set up reward system that basically are individual-based. I always tell teams, I always tell my clients, if you want your team to collaborate, reward team performance, because if not, it's who gets the bonus? Who gets the promotion and then it's individual. But if you say that either you're all rewarded or no one is rewarded, then they have to work together. When you say only one of the five or seven is going to get a bonus.

Gustavo:

It's all against each other.

Myriam:

And I think that's what many managers or organizations ignore that you get what you incentivize to do. So if you incentivize competitive behavior by your staff members, then this is what you're gonna see. So if you have an individual bonus, as you said, then of course they will compete to each other. And I think, um, the incentive scheme or payment scheme is often not adapted to the organizational culture that leaders then define that they want to have.

Gustavo:

And compensation is very important because all titles, because then everyone is fighting for that. Companies tend to have a culture of scarcity. No. So they say, well we can only give one promotion, we can only give one a salary increase and then people are fighting for that. First of all, I would put titles aside because titles, I mean they create more issues than help. You know what I mean? Because people say I want to be VP. I went to SVP. I worked in some companies that they were hundreds of VPs but no one reported to them. So everyone got their titles and I said, what's the point? So shifting from titles to roles - So basically you can play more than one role allows people to feel more engaged to do more purpose driven work. And that's all we need to get more money because they, okay, I'm very productive. I'm going to take another role.

Myriam:

Yeah, that's more transparent as well. Yeah, totally. I could talk on and on with you about change. But actually I realized that I wanted to talk to you about meetings, um, that, well you already said it in the beginning. That's very interrelated in that basically change starts with meetings. So you need the meetings, you need to bring people together to discuss. So that change can occur. Maybe one question first. What is the key difference between a meeting and a workshop according to you?

Gustavo:

That's a great point. I think that all meetings should be more like a workshop, right? But basically in a workshop, the key focus is about learning new mindsets, new behaviors, addressing issues that you can do in meetings and experimenting. So let's see that it's kind of, I don't like the word training because usually people think of training as teaching. But if you think of athletes knowing the sports world or if you think of artists, they spend most of their time practicing to be great at what they do. And they own its whole sports. A players practice five or six days a week and they play once a week. [inaudible] artists practice and write songs and whatever for I know how long and then they go on tour for a month and then they go back into, in the business world we're always performing but we don't practice. So workshops are more like practicing, preparing to become better at what we do. And meetings is a very important part of performing.

Myriam:

I like the picture. It resonates very well. And now I, because I read in one of your blogs that in meetings, so you don't leave the meeting without getting the outcome or the goal that you came for. And I had the impression that this is also maybe an important difference between a meeting and a workshop that in a meeting you have very specific goal, you need to take a decision maybe or you need to get some work done. Whereas workshop, usually the work starts afterwards.

Gustavo:

Not In my workshops, but I would say that maybe in a meeting you have a more short term goal, right? If it's a daily meeting or a weekly meeting, whatever, you're trying to solve something really concrete. When I facilitate a workshop with clients, I always tell them that it's about changing behavior. So we focus one behaviour they want the team to change in a week after the workshop in a month after the workshop, in a quarter after the work. So the workshop has a short, medium term effect, the meeting has a more short term goal. Okay. So for example, we need to prioritize our ... We are going to release a new product and new software and we need to prioritize the three or four things that we're going to change and who's going to take care of that. So you don't leave the meeting without those clear priorities and responsibilities.

Myriam:

Yeah. If you could change one thing in the way how organizations meet, what would you change?

Gustavo:

One thing that's hard, I would say the first thing that comes to mind, it's I would say stop having meetings on autopilot.

Myriam:

So no recurrent meetings?

Gustavo:

Not only recurring, but most of the people. Most of the 10 people. I took a lot of meetings because when I start working at a company meetings are an issue. Oh. So I have a company, have their senior leaders meet every month for three hours. So I always ask them, why are you meeting? Nope, that's me. You asked about my hashtag early on. My hashtag is WHY. So I tell him, why are you meeting? And initially you get crickets right? And people are still looking at each other and then someone says, well, because we have to or because we always do or because they see or expect us to meet or because.. They don't give a concrete answer tied to benefits. They don't say we meet here because it's the only time to prioritize our work or make a strategic decisions or see no, no.

Myriam:

So what is according to you, the best strategy to get out of autopilot?

Gustavo:

I think it's becoming more mindful and that means to start understanding why we do what we do. So it's asking, okay, why first? Why do we have these meetings?

Gustavo:

What's their real purpose? And it can be a very lofty purpose, can be a very tactical and executional purpose. Second is, can that be solved without a meeting? Because many times I say people like, hey guys, you're sharing information you can do via email, slack, other tools you need to regroup and it's not, I'm saying don't regroup. But if you bring people together, which is meetings are very expensive [inaudible] make sure that you need to do work to do something that you couldn't do effectively via email or Skype or whatever. So then it's setting a clear outcome, what are we trying to achieve with these meetings, how will we define that these meeting has been successful. The third point is making it an engagement. So turning into a meeting that people want to participate. I know that they have to participate. The themes are making it inclusive in terms of how can you facilitate it in a way that everyone will have a turn to speak to share their ideas the right way. And not that the CEO's is always the one talking or so.

Myriam:

Would you include kind of workshop elements in meetings in order to incentivize everyone to speak or how would you do that?

Gustavo:

I mean you can include certain workshop elements. So, but also there are things, for example, very basic practice. It's kind of mindset doing a check-in and a check-out. So the check-in is asking what's got your attention and asking one person at the time. So everyone knows where are the restrictions and the potentials that they have on top of their head so they can put them aside and focus on the work. Another practice that is really effective is what's called "Conversational Turn Taking". So let's see there. We're going to review the budget and we need to ask questions or we need to relocate money across different departments or whatever. So let everyone speak one at a time. Let the most senior and the most loud people speak last. Hmm. So they let their people to have their turn, but also because when the CEO, shares her ideas, then it's influencing

Myriam:

Leadership bias.

Gustavo:

Yeah, exactly. It's bias, but also train senior leaders to listen to people. Huh.

Myriam:

Would this in turn mean that if there is an intern in the room that he or she would start speaking?

Gustavo:

Yes, I would say so. Is not that you need to go by title. You know what I mean? Cause it's not like if you're not, if not, you're turning it into something hierarchical. Yeah, but I think that I would encourage either the most shy person or the more internal. Normally women, introverts, a people from multicultural groups especially in the US tend to be less outspoken? So these rule promotes that everyone feels include and they can eh, share their opinions. Yeah.

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Myriam:

I was always wondering whether, and when you said that most of the time we go on autopilot and I have two things that come to my mind that may also impact. Now I would be curious about your opinion. One is that especially when it's a leadership meeting that is recurrent, so it's the same people, CEO, CFO, COO, meet every month or every week. So they usually have the exact same agenda. So okay, we start with reviewing the minutes of last times, then we agree on the agenda. Then we discuss about ABC and it's always exactly the same kind of structure, which might help, especially for the minutes and for the communication. But I think this also adds to the autopilot that many of the participants would just zone out because every meeting feels like the last one.

Gustavo:

No. Yeah. I mean there are many ways to address that. One way is to build the agenda - like when it's a weekly meeting - you can build the agenda on the fly because you never know what are the issues that people want to discuss, no, so basically it's you let each team member share attention or what's the tension that you're facing as a team member that or as a team that we want to address. You collect all without giving to each, just collecting the tension and then the team might decide to prioritize those and then you start solving one at a time. So that's a way to to do that now.

Myriam:

yes, assuming that there is no documentation that needs to be read before.

Gustavo:

Yeah, it all depends. There are some companies that practice what they call the silent meeting, so instead of sharing information on PowerPoint and they weren't really [inaudible] with that. They provide a copy at the very beginning of the meeting. There allow people for about 10 to 15 minutes, whatever it takes to review the material, write down their questions, and then they start sharing questions.

Myriam:

Actually, I love the idea because first it acknowledges that most of the time they don't have time to read it beforehand anyway. And yes. Yeah. And it forces them to reduce the reading material so that it can actually be done in 10 minutes.

Gustavo:

Yeah. On your focus because you don't have distraction. On the other hand, if you're the one sending the material to review, then you're going to get everyone asking the same questions through the same channels. So in the meeting, the notion of people jotting that, writing down their questions. It's interesting because sometimes we expect people to brainstorm out loud and some people don't have that ability. So you give them some time to reflect on the document capture questions and start sharing. Yeah. And if some people ask the same question, you don't need to repeat the question. Yeah.

Myriam:

And what I like to do in these cases is first to collect all the questions and then to answer them in a bulk because otherwise you might get lost in the details of one question, never get to the second one actually. And then you can also make sure that you don't have the redundant topics coming up.

Gustavo:

Absolutely. That's great.

Myriam:

Do you believe in virtual meetings?

Gustavo:

It's not a religion. So [inaudible], I'm kidding. No. Yeah, I think that virtual meetings are great and then really effective. The point for me, it's like the open and closed office. It's not one, the mistake that companies make is they think that it's one or the other. So I think that any company should have like a library, a space that you can go and read and check stuff and check books, whatever, and in silence and no one interrupts, you know? So it still happens with meetings. I think that certain topics are great to have like - I have a lot of video Skypes for coaching or team sessions, but for example, if you're going to address very complicated or very sensitive issues, it's better to have people in the room now. But also what you want to make sure is that if you're addressing attention with one person, that the person that is the conflict maker is not the one on the call and the rest stayed in the room because they, it's gonna make it harder, if you know what I mean.

Myriam:

Then suddenly the connection breaks down. Oops.

Gustavo:

Yeah. And I think that that's one of the Google publication, study a couple of months ago about best practices for, for remote teams. I want to think that [inaudible] make sure that there's no [inaudible] locals and virtual but everyone feels that they are both local and virtual because sometimes a company has five people in one office and then five others spread out. And they go there in the formal or physical room then to dismiss the ones that are outside. No. So once again, make sure that they are the ones that are on the camera are they wants to speak up first, acknowledge them, make them maybe share some kind of personal anecdote before the call starts. So they are like present, no and I think that we suggest is that try to at least, I don't know, once a year, once a quarter to bring everyone together and also share. It's a, it's a balance between virtual and physical where human beings, we need to have the connection. Oh yeah.

Myriam:

And this brings us back also to the meetings in general because I think one purpose a meeting has, which is most often not verbalised, is that it's beyond the pure exchange of information decision making. It's just coming together as a social ritual.

Gustavo:

Yeah. I think that the meetings, if they're proactive and, and, and well managed, well facilitated. It's a very effective way to get things done. But at the same time, while we're doing work, we are also like reinforcing our purpose, our connection, our network as a team. No. So a good meeting also strengthens the bonding between people. Because one thing could be like, look, I have to take care of these projects and I'm like this, I don't have bandwidth. Right. And then another team members says, you know what, I can lend you one staff or I can take of that project myself, let's swap whatever. So Normally, you get, you solve the problem and you get work done. But you also strengthen the relationship between people. Yeah.

Myriam:

And they can feel that they can help each other rely on each other, learn from each other. And this also creates bonds. And it's actually a good investment because it pays off even outside the meeting place when they, when the conversations get faster. Oh yes. Well the information acquisition gets faster because they know whom to ask.

Gustavo:

No, absolutely. And there's all sorts of information that the interaction with people, and especially having some social time so to speak, so you don't meet to share about your kids, but it's a little bit, having a little bit of that personal interaction increases their bonding and there's a lot of research that shows that the more people know their team members, the more proactive and the more creative and collaborative that team becomes.

Myriam:

Do you think this is related to the safe space? Because I can imagine if we feel safe, our brain goes, okay, relax and then we can be creative. Whereas if we don't feel safe, we're in constant watch out/ danger mode. So our survival instinct is on. So creativity doesn't have space.

Gustavo:

Yeah, I mean sharing safe space or what's called psychological safety. It's critical because if I feel them to see something and you're going to say ah, or laugh at me or reject my idea or don't listen to what I'm saying or even fire me because of my ideas, then I'm gonna turn to silence. So trust, I mean that the, the collective trust and psychological safety is the belief that the whole team is safe for me to have interpersonal relationships and interaction with people. So that's critical.

Myriam:

Yeah. And then exchanging personnel, personal stuff and stories. This creates this bond because it also shows vulnerability. It shows that we are all human. We all have our struggles and families and so on and so forth.

Gustavo:

Absolutely. We, I mean creativity is a human act so the more human we behave, the more creative we're going to become when we try to, yeah. When it's an emotional, it's like creation. It's an emotion. When you're writing it's, you don't know where you're going to learn. You suffer, you struggle, you throw things away, you start all over. So it's an emotional journey. So when we embrace the emotional culture, we have bigger chances to succeed than when we try to suppress it. Yeah.

Myriam:

What would be your advice to a new team leader to have meetings that matter?

Gustavo:

I think the first thing I would do is to try to prioritize what the team wants to achieve together and then brainstorm on how are the better ways to get that done. Hmm. And then which meetings might be necessary if you're a new team leader and the team already exists. One of the things I always ask people is to rank all the from, I love them and I hate them and why. Then brainstorm. Because many people in the team might have different opinions, but sometimes you get to realize, Oh wow, this meeting, the weekly meeting, the way weekly status meetings, no one wants to join it. Yeah. So I would say like you can eliminate a meeting, you can shorten it, you can make it more efficient or you can keep it as-is. If it's working don't break it or improve it without changing.

Gustavo:

And sometimes, for example, I work with team that, okay, instead of having a regular sitting down meeting, let's go for a walk and share all the tensions. So the team, five people go for a walk to the park around the office, you exercise, Blah Blah, blah. And that's it. Yeah. So walking meeting [inaudible] so you can share the issues though, all that stuff. So the virtual meanings, we tend to sit down. So when we sit down, the energy doesn't flow. We get bored, we get distracted into something. No. So for example, removing technology. If you're not going to use technologies it's important to focus. But sometimes a walking meeting and here in Chicago it snows a lot. Some of you, you have a large office walk across to the office with your team and share the papers and talk. It becomes much more relaxed that way and not on a table divided by the coffees and the computers and the people. And then it feels more like we didn't structure it seriously.

Myriam:

And it seems to be also the best strategy to fight this autopilot that you mentioned before. Because every, every time you walk it will be different by definition.

Gustavo:

Yeah. And if you choose, of course different places. No. So one thing that I tell people like because they'll say "I'm going to have all my meetings walking." No, that's no balance. So first not all the meetings can be done while you're walking, you know, maybe you're discussing something very confidential or maybe you need to share, you need to brainstorm whatever. It's, so I adapt, but also, I don't know, maybe you can, you can see it is those meetings going to be on Mondays or on Tuesday I mean switch the day or maybe one day you did it in the morning and another day you did in the afternoon and test. You need to test and normally not to be on autopilot, but to see what works best.

Myriam:

Yeah. Hmm. How important do you consider courage for team lead or for for team leaders to be good meeting facilitators?

Gustavo:

Courage. I think it's critical because leading is about taking risks. I'm putting your job at risk. I remember like I work in a company that we manage a large unit, but of course it wasn't the largest unit within a huge multinational company. So one of my roles as the CEO was to fight for my team to have a role, a place, a seat on the table and that meant taking a lot of risks and speaking up and whatever. And some point, one of my team members came and say, well, I want to thank you because you're doing this for us. And he said, you know, that's why I get paid for. If you have a formal leader title, you're being paid for to risk your job. That's why you get paid more. Yeah, nope. Become comparable because you might get fired more. Good because you have to risk your job.

Myriam:

And I totally see that for the team leader when facing managers are people higher in a hierarchy. I was rather thinking of the meeting space with the team because when I thought of this new kind of more creative out of the box meeting formats for me it sounds as if you needed a lot of courage or at least self confidence, maturity or total foolness to be able to really suggest that and say, okay, that's what we're going to do now

Gustavo:

it has. But I think that if the leader needs to set the stage of creating that safe space, so I cannot tell you and your team, hey go ahead guys, go and have a walking meeting. But then the meetings with me, it's in my private office. I'm sitting in this huge chair. And you're like this intimidated with the lights on your face. Yeah. So if I start changing stuff, if I start taking risks, no. So I mean one practice I did and I also sometimes coach with team is like get a pizza. No. And get a lunch with a lot of people, like small group, no people that report directly to you but from different areas of the company and everyone who grabs a slice has to ask a question to the CEO. No. And you have to answer all the questions because that's the deal. And if someone gets two slices, they ask two questions, so and, and that creates a dynamic that people say, well if I don't ask, I don't eat. So it creates a fun, you know, engagement. Yeah. But you get to eat last, so if there's leftovers, you eat but you also eat cold and you have to address every questions in order to get your slides. So, it's a nice gamification.

Myriam:

that's very nice. And I guess that you can even use it for normal meetings. It doesn't need to be the CEO necessarily to answer the questions, but even it may be a meeting to get everyone to speak and to ask questions and participate. Maybe they only get the slice if they ask a question general or contribute to the topic.

Gustavo:

Absolutely. Yeah, no, that, that's the case. And also like for example, I was coaching a large team a couple of weeks ago and the senior leadership says, oh, my team doesn't want to take risks. You know, the typical, they're not innovative, they don't want to get out of their comfort zone, same story. And then at some point I started talking about mistakes and the role they play and how we need to start embracing mistakes more. So I called to, not to the stage but to a friend, I was talking with that group and invited the CEO and the CEO to join his, hey, come here, please. Of course, yeah. What's going on? When was the last time you make a mistake and what have you learned? Why don't you share with your team?

Myriam:

How did they react?

Gustavo:

So if those guys, I'm going to tell you how you then, but don't speak and they say, no, I don't make mistakes, then people are not going to trust you. And I'll say, yeah, sure, come on. Yeah. But if they speak up and they say, look, I scrubbed these, I did that stuff on blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Then you're creating a space where it becomes safer for people to fail. Yeah.

Myriam:

And I think it's, it's a test for authenticity because the audience, the team will immediately grasp if it's just a fake mistake. It reminds me of this question in a job interview where people are, so what are your weaknesses? And then, oh, I'm a perfectionist. Oh yeah. If you ask the leader to admit a mistake, and he said, oh, and then comes up with a fake mistake, like perfectionism, I think this is, yes, I can see your face that you agree.

Gustavo:

[inaudible] no, no, of course. Yeah. I say if perfectionism is the enemy of innovation, so you don't want perfection.

Myriam:

Yeah. And it's, um, and you will never make mistakes and never learn if you try to be an perfectionist

Gustavo:

because they have all this theory and answers, but they never implement anything.

Myriam:

Yes. I was so thankful when this article about mistakes landed in my inbox. It was perfectly after a week of one mistake after the other, so it was a good reminder. I wrote down all my learnings from that. What makes workshops fail according to you?

Gustavo:

Yeah. I mean many things. No. So one way to measure success is the success of a workshop is based on participation. And I always say like I do a lot of in-company so workshops for a particular client. I sometimes do open workshops where people, would [inaudible] or people from different companies or walks of life, can join. My measure of success is making sure that no one leaves the room before it ends. But I think that one of the key things that might make it unsuccessful or might hinder success, lack of adaptability or flexibility. Usually I worked with a lot of people. I like to assign the workshops, not in terms of goals, objectives, what's going to happen, the exercise duration, everything all and try to mix a little bit of theory, a little bit of exercise and a bit of learning. So group activities or mixing things up, but you don't know what's gonna happen.

Gustavo:

So some things as a facilitator you say oh this exercise is fantastic people are going to love it. And then when you throw it at people like ... so what can you do? You can continue pushing and try be make people to love it or you can go "guys this is not working, throw it away." [inaudible] or maybe you allocate 30 minutes to address certain no, no meetings. How are we going to increase a communication or feedback, whatever. And that becomes a kind of warms and you start like a lot of tensions start to show up and becomes like a huge thing because you're into something [inaudible] so you can see, well the next topic on the agenda is a move on. Or we can say, look, I'm gonna maybe delete something, but I'm going to give people more time because this is really critical. Yeah. So that flexibility, that level of activity is critical for the facilitator. Yeah. Yeah. You entered with a plan, but you need to manage the plan according to what people are really reacting. Both what they like and what the don't resonate.

Myriam:

Yeah. Yeah. So what kind of, you just, I loved it when you said, Oh, you arrive with the exercise that you love and you realize that they don't. What is your favorite exercise?

Gustavo:

I have many. So I have one that is really, really simple that you said many times to kick off a workshops, especially when people don't know them that well. That's called who are you? I learned it in scrum for a couple of years ago and basically you pair people so you have pairs of two people working together and one person asks the question, "who are you?" and the other person answers, right? And then you switch turns. And we can do it now if you want. They can tell you: who are you.

Myriam:

I am Myriam.

Gustavo:

Who are you?

Myriam:

I am an entrepreneur, a facilitator.

Gustavo:

Who are you?

Myriam:

I'm an Amsterdammer. I .... okay, I see. So when would you stop?

Gustavo:

I give people sometimes like two minutes. And basically it's really uncomfortable because imagine to meet someone asks and the person that asks the question can not make any comments to interrupt. Sticks to that. Just one question. But then they switch roles. You get to learn a lot about the other person. But also for us, we usually define who we are based on our title. Or in our role, if we have a family blah blah blah. And this helps you to peel the onion of the multiple layers of who we are.

Myriam:

Yeah. Just one comment. I think what is beautiful about this exercise is that the other person gets this full attention without judgment. Because if you're only allowed to ask this one question, who are you? You can feel the focus of the other person who listens and you don't feel judged. You cannot feel judged because there's no space for commenting. So it creates a lot of trust and a little time, I can imagine.

Gustavo:

Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. So creative people learn a lot about people that have been working for years together in two minutes. That also create that trust.

Myriam:

I can imagine that it becomes very emotional very quickly.

Gustavo:

Yes, it is. And then people, because you need to make them feel emotional, uncomfortable to then start trust. Yeah. You cannot build trust from an intellectual standpoint. No, it doesn't work. And then I have another exercise, which is my favourite that it's more of an exercise that I designed that's called the accountability partnership or the dual partnership. And its basically, when we talk about teams, we always talk about the team as a unit, but this, so the mutual reciprocal relationships that count. So these are about finding, if there's a team of eight or 10 each person find their accountability partner. So let's say you and I work on the same team and we're going to become accountability partners. So there's a template and a form, it's on the website with all the explanation that each person defines one behavior that they want to change.

Myriam:

The other one will change. So I find your behavior.

Gustavo:

No, no, no. Each of these finds, that will be a nice, I'm going to try that out. That would be a great, no, it started with each one defines their own behavior. Okay, okay, we're going to do that. I'm going to try that. So let's see that. I want to start showing up at meetings better prepared or on time, whatever is my stuff. So then you have to set metrics of how, you know, see that that's going to be successful.

Gustavo:

Then I need to define what I expect from you how you can help me succeed. And that could be - what kind of partnership do I expect from you? Do I want you to be like bossy who is going to call me out when I don't do it. Are you going to be a fun person to help me relax so that I'm not that perfectionist? Are you going to whatever? No. Are you going to be more of a coach asking questions? No.

Myriam:

Yeah,

Gustavo:

because you need to get into why I am getting late to the meetings. You're going to be my coach and help me. On the other hand, you're going to have your own goal and I'm going to be your coach and help you succeed. Once each member achieve their goal, they move to another one and another one another. That one.

Myriam:

How do pair the teams of two?

Gustavo:

Great question. It will depend. Sometimes we ask people to choose someone. But the trick is you don't want to choose someone that you feel too close to because then it becomes more of a friendship and blah, blah, blah. But also it's hard to work with someone that you feel really bad about. No. Yeah. But in most cases we kick it off when we went to open workshops with a team of 20, 30 whatever. We just randomly say you and you and you and they have to work. Oh we see. We try it. And if after a couple of months it's not working, maybe you can switch. But I think that it's more important the practice that who you do it with.

Myriam:

Yeah. And I guess if you start with the exercise you mentioned before, the who are you exercise to really build kind of basis of trust and a bond, then you can basically work with everyone. I think there are very few people that we really dislike despite knowing them better.

Gustavo:

Yes, that's a great point. But also if it's part of the team, so you need to learn to work with everyone, even your enemies. But if it's in your team, it shouldn't be an enemy. Yeah, it's a difficult person. I always tell people like instead of judging the other think what is that person seeing about you? Oh yeah. So many times we don't like in others what we dislike about ourselves,

Myriam:

That's why we have problems with our mothers, because they constantly reflect ourself.

Gustavo:

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Awesome.

Myriam:

I just looked at the time and realized that it just disappeared. We lost. Yes. I'm glad. But I don't want to take too much of your time.

Gustavo:

So you have one or two more questions and we can wrap it up. I would agree with you. Yeah.

Myriam:

Anything you would like to share that we haven't touched upon?

Gustavo:

I think that trying to summarize a little bit, the spirit especially when we talk about collaboration or being part of a workshop or a meeting, it's two fold. First, the success or failure of a meeting depends on everyone. So it's easy to blame the boss or the person who invites you to the meeting or the one who set the agenda if the meeting's not working. So ask yourself, how can you make that meeting better and what are you doing that the meeting sucks instead of blaming the rest?

Myriam:

Would you have this conversation with a team?

Gustavo:

So yes. The responsibility of each to make this meeting successful. Yes. Going back to what we discuss about reward collective behavior. So if you want to change collective behavior, address it collectively.

Gustavo:

So in our case we were real coaching, no, we will have consulting and and, and, and workshop facilitation. But most of the coaching that we do is for the team. We do from time to time coach our particular leader, but as part of a team coaching because what's the purpose of talk to you and then to our team member when we do talk about guys, we need to work together. When you have a one on one, you're going to tell me, ah, it's that. Yeah, I know. And the other person's going to say the same about you. When are together it's we need to solve this problem guys.

Myriam:

yeah. Final question. And it's just because I'm so curious. When did you start calling yourself a facilitator?

Gustavo:

I don't know, like a, um, I think that facilitating is a key tool of any leader. Either if you're a formal leader or an informal leader or you are leading a meeting or a workshop meeting sense of facilitating because it's not about telling the rest what to do. I always tell people like, you're not gonna learn anything from me. I'm not going to make you change. So I wanna listen and experience. But it's up to you to embrace it and take the fall. So you need to open your mind. I would say like empty your cup, put everything you know aside. A chance to everything I'm going to introduce today that it might be possible that it could work

Gustavo:

but if you don't try it, you know, so forget about what you tried. Forget about what, you know, boom. Experiment. I think workshops are critical for people to take risks and practice behaviors that they cannot usually practice at home and sort of pick. So I think that in that sense I've been a facilitator. I tried to be a facilitator and I try now for most of my career. Yeah. But I also screw things up a lot. No, I always say that in when it comes to meetings or workshops, I apply the right example from people I worked with. The things ... The mistakes, and all the screw-ups I made in my career and now I'm trying to solve them both.

Myriam:

At least there were, there were words for something. Yes, yes. Yeah. And usually the biggest mistakes and fucked ups, they just turn into the best anecdotes. So whenever something bad happens to me, I just try to remember, okay, tomorrow it's going to be a very good story. Yeah. Yeah. As long as you can solve it. Yeah. So we have the nice words or money. It's okay. Absolutely.

Gustavo:

That's a great test that you can do for meetings. Like you can send an invitation, let's say from the team leader to half of the team and say, guys, this, in this meeting I'm going to be sharing all my success stories throughout my career so you can learn. And the other one's you send one that I'm going to invite you to a meeting. I'm going to share all of the failures and mistakes I've made and what I learned. And see how many people show up to one meeting and the other.

Myriam:

Yes, yes, I think I .... We can all very well predicted, right? Yeah. Recently I euhm. I watched a short video by the school of life by Alain de Button. I love these guys. They also said it's nobody's actually interested in your success stories. We all are only interested in our struggles because this is how we bond with each other, how we can relate to each other, how we see the humanness, so sharing success stories. This maybe good for us and our own ego, but it's not interesting unless it's inspiring and others can learn from it the ways nobody really cares. Absolutely sad but true.

Myriam:

If someone in the audience fell asleep after minute and one just woke up and doesn't have time to listen to our conversation again, what do you want them to remember?

Gustavo:

Meetings are not the enemy. Badly designed meetings and badly [inaudible] facilitated meetings are the enemy.

Myriam:

yeah. Nice. And if now someone wants to reach out to you, read your blog, you, you all must read his blog, it's fantastic. Full of wisdom. How can they find you?

Gustavo:

They can go to my website, which is liberationist.org People can go there and they can contact me. You want to ask questions or reach out, you're going to see all the things that we do, but also they have the link to my posts. I have like over 400 posts, but also many tools. Yeah, so the exercises that we discussed before the, who are you, the accountability partners there are all there. You can download them but also have all the instructions to facilitate it. So

Myriam:

awesome. I will put all of that in the show notes. Okay, perfect. Thank you so much for your time and for this chat. That was huge fun.

Gustavo:

Awesome. Yeah, it was really fun. I appreciate you reaching out. It was amazing, so thank you so much.

Myriam:

Thank you. Bye Bye. Bye Bye. Right, bye.

Outro:

Thank you for staying tuned and listening to the show. I appreciate your attention as I know how busy you are. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and engage by sharing your comments and thoughts and visit workshops that work to download the one page summary. I'm looking forward to seeing you back at the next episode and I wish you food full day.