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Monday, March 16, 2009

Random Inputs Week

Speaking and travel are both great sources of inspiration for blog topics. Twitter has become another one as well. This week, we'll feature posts inspired through each of these sources.

Brainzooming - Being Perceived as a Strategic Leader

Last Thursday I spoke at Max Utsler's Innovation in Marketing Communications class at Kansas University, debuting the new version of "Taking the NO Out of InNOvation" summarized here a number of weeks ago. It seemed very appropriate since the first version of the presentation came from speaking to Max's class 5 years ago!

One topic we discussed was the idea of very subtle ways to demonstrate a strategic perspective. This includes taking notes and recapping meetings to allow you to shape the conversation as it happens and afterward. One student voiced the concern that taking and typing notes can get you cast in an "administrative" role. It's a valid concern, yet one that's easily avoided. Here's how:

  1. Don't just take notes - take on a facilitation role. That means being ready to interject open-ended, probing questions to help the group explore the topic being discussed. Your active questioning and involvement provides equal footing with other participants even while you're displaying the characteristics of servant leadership.

  2. Don't just type up the notes - add value through summarization, structure, conclusions, and recommendations. When someone approaches note taking and follow-up as an administrative task, the report out is typically chronological, with the notes coming back word-for-word, space-for-space as they were recorded at the meeting. When approaching a recap strategically, however, it provides the opportunity to move beyond a chronological playback. Instead, you can group notes based on similar themes, organize them with a logic flow that a live meeting doesn't allow, fill-in information gaps, form conclusions, and even begin to suggest recommendations.

Employ these two approaches and meeting participants will notice the difference. You won't be mistaken as playing an administrative role. Trust me - I've seen it work time after time.


Argey said...

I've used mind maps for taking meeting notes and found it helps immensely when pulling together different strands and avoiding the chronological 'he said; she said' type of minutes.

'Next actions' is another component to include in the notes if the aim is to be seen as making a difference.

Great suggestions, thanks, especially on taking up a facilitator role that's going begging. Must admit I've generally avoided that, but I can see I shall have to take this one up.


Mike Brown said...

Thanks Roy for the additional ideas on mind mapping and next actions - both very helpful. Offering to do facilitation IS a great approach, since a lot of people DON'T want to do it.