BOOK REVIEW: The Non-Obvious Guide to Magical Meetings
by Douglas Ferguson and John Fitch
ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):
An unusual and irreverent guide to transforming your meetings from time-sucking interruptions to productive moments of collaboration – whether your team is together or virtual.
What if meetings could be the high point of collaboration in your day, instead of the usual time-sucking soul-draining experience they often become?
In this guide, expert facilitators Douglas Ferguson and John Fitch tackle the myth that the most effective way to get more out of meetings is to just avoid having them or to have less of them. In a well-run organization, meetings should actually be integral to getting sh*t done.
Meetings are the secret underappreciated weapon that businesses are using badly. And why do they use them so badly? Because no one has been taught how to make them better. In this guide, you will learn:
- What if having an agenda has no effect on whether you have a great meeting?
- What happens when you actually do the work in the meeting?
- What are the five common elements of every meeting that sucks, and how do you avoid them?
Douglas and John show you how to adopt and adapt the non-obvious Meeting Mantras they developed at their company, Voltage Control. Their methods have helped companies and teams transform the perception of meetings from “going to the dentist” (ie – something you have to do but hate) into something you can’t wait for – like a rock concert or great dinner.
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One of the authors of this book, Douglas Ferguson, led a session at the Running Remote conference I attended last month in Montreal. His was the last session of the two-day conference when everyone is starting to get a little bit weary from listening to presentations, and his was the only session that was more like an interactive workshop.
He called the exercise “Troika”, which I had never heard of. Troika means a group of three people working together, and that’s exactly what he had us do. We broke into groups of three. Each person in the group described a problem they were having to the other two who then asked clarifying questions until he had the person with the problem turn around and face the other way. Meanwhile, the other two discussed the problem and potential solutions. When the time was up, the other two presented their proposed solution to the first person. After all of that, the person with the problem wrote down on a piece of paper the one thing they would do to work towards solving their problem. It was a fairly simple exercise that helped a lot of us walk away with practical solutions.
After the conference, I downloaded The Non-Obvious Guide to Magical Meetings on Kindle Unlimited and read it in two days. I took tons of notes and got so many ideas for how to make the meetings I lead (and even the ones I just attend) better.
If you attend meetings, and especially if you facilitate any meetings, this book is a must-read.
A good meeting stays on task, ends on time, and reaches its objective by the end; a great meeting creates a sense of flow: the positive mental state of being completely absorbed by, focused on and involved in your activities at a certain point in time, as well as deriving enjoyment from being engaged in that activity.