Each of my senior staff meetings start off with a “nugget” — a brief lesson or moment of inspiration about something to think about.  Think of it as an oral leadership dot!  We rotate responsibility for these each week, which provides us great variety in topics.  We have had nuggets about Tom’s Shoes, financial planning, lessons from Starbucks, color wheels, Jewish holidays, prayers from AA, traditions, and, my favorite, about how parents make better managers (which was presented in front of our childless president and me — the giver still hasn’t lived that one down!).  

Nuggets are a great way to share responsibility for each meeting and to spend those first few moments getting the cobwebs out of everyone’s brain.  It allows us to start slowly and get into the groove before we dive right into the discussion topic.  And, just as it occurs with me writing leadership dots, it makes the giver a bit more conscious of what is happening around him/her in preparation for giving one.

In other settings, I start the meeting with a numbers analysis, and we rotate responsibility for that too. When you teach, you learn, and really crunching the numbers helps people become more familiar with the nuances of them.  The shared ownership of conducting the meeting also helps with personal development as the number-sharer also has to communicate tactics for the week in response to the status of the numbers.  It creates understanding, urgency and commitment.

I delegate many parts of meetings to others in the group.  Senior staff rotates locations to a different part of campus each meeting.  The person who does the nugget also has to choose the location.  This wayfaring has allowed us to see different offices and parts of campus that we would never have seen otherwise (departmental conference rooms, the planetarium, residence hall lounges, ceramics studio, theatre green rooms, the costume shop, etc.)  Even if you are not on a campus with such a plethora of meeting location options, mixing it up in any way it helps to stimulate new thinking.

My Friday afternoon meeting members share responsibility for a “glucose assignment” (aka treats), so named because of a scientific journal article that someone routed which illustrated that glucose levels drop in late afternoons and suggested that I bring cookies to prevent such a crisis!  We have taken care to avoid glucose level decreases ever since.

Meetings often get a bad reputation because they are the same old, same old — without variation of content, location, presenters or agenda items.  Get others involved in making the meeting productive and it will set a whole new tone for the rest of the agenda.

— beth triplett


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