Using Participatory Meetings as a Catalyst to Soar
I have a great privilege in life as a result of working internationally as a meeting facilitator and trainer. The meetings and the training are both designed for engaged participation. In fact, they invite creativity, innovation, insights, and are solution focused. So, here is the privilege. Everywhere I work, I find the power of imagination at work. The seat of true creativity is found in imagination. I get to witness people everywhere I go using their creativity to create improved conditions, improved futures, improved results. I witness people arriving to the meeting with skepticism, shifting to tentative engagement, and then to lively engagement.
The participatory meetings engage individual and collective imagination to the best possible outcomes. This gives me so much hope for the future our various organizations, communities, and of humanity as a whole. I have a front row seat to witnessing the benefits for humanity from the power of imagination.
As you can imagine, from the privilege of witnessing so many impressive breakthroughs, I am quite enthusiastic about using participatory meetings as a catalyst for any organization of people to soar.
The two participatory meetings that I teach are
There are also a variety of other participatory meeting processes that are equally helpful including World Cafe and the Appreciative Inquiry summit. Any of the participatory meetings cited in The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Changing the Future are worthwhile to bring into your organization as useful meeting methods to use as a catalyst to soar. They all give freedom for the power of imagination to do its work.
Making the Most out of Participatory Meetings
I prepare my ‘clients’ to make the most out of their participatory meetings so that the meeting is truly a catalyst for the enterprise to soar. A planning meeting of just a few hours makes a huge difference in the outcomes from a participatory meeting when it takes into account harnessing the power of the people, the power of imagination, and closing the gap between potential and results.
Planning for a typical meeting often goes only as far as a date & time, location and someone writing down an agenda for the meeting. Planning for a participatory meeting, where attendees are actually engaged and invited to learn and contribute from the fullness of their whole selves, starts with planning to create the conditions for true participation to happen.
We think of this as planning for highly effective meetings.
One focus of the planning meeting is the identification of the givens. Givens are the non-negotiables for the meeting – not just for what happens in the meeting itself, but also for working with the outcomes and outputs of the meeting. For example, givens for a meeting that is kicking off a new project might include that the budget for the project is fixed but how that budget is allocated is negotiable. Or it might include that the budget for the project including the line items of how it is allocated are fixed. Leaders who are responsible for the performance of their organizations are the ones to decide what the parameters or the ‘givens’ are for a meeting. By providing clear givens from the outset, the container in which there is freedom to operate, freedom for imagination and creativity to soar, is well defined.
A well-defined container means that imagination soars in the best directions to achieve your goals. When the invitation to the meeting is sent out, it is an invitation to use the power of the imagination within particular parameters to creatively find just the right solutions.
Planning for Participatory Meetings
Join Rachel Bolton and me for an online workshop for Planning for Participatory Meetings coming up March 7th from 9 am to 12 noon EST. In this workshop, you’ll learn a simple to use process for planning for participatory meetings that engages the right people in ensuring your meetings offer the best conditions for learning, engagement, and active participation in getting the job done well. You may be surprised how much more you get out of the participatory meetings for the benefit of the organization in using meetings as a catalyst to soar.
Can’t make the workshop live? Registration includes lifetime access to a copy of the recording for your self-study.