Stakeholders ask meeting participants, “What happened in the meeting?” It’s a good idea to sound like all attended the same meeting.  To ensure that participants harmonize their “elevator speech” (also known as coffee pot, issue bin, and other 30-second synopsis of events or issues), quickly facilitate and get the group to agree on what they are going to tell their superiors and other stakeholders when asked. You might call it the Guardian of Change.

Two-column Guardian of Change

Two-column (T-chart) Guardian of Change

For major initiatives such as strategic planning or project launches, it is wise to invest a few hours to build a robust communications plan, but most meetings do not afford that much time.  Rather than skip the activity entirely, Use the MG Rush Professional Guardian of Change approach to build a quick and simple communications.

Background on Guardian of Change

Research at a Fortune 50 client unveiled that the best product ideas were not being commercialized.  Rather, the products getting approval were the products that were being “championed” by the most persuasive and charismatic “champions.”  From that moment until now, we have learned to avoid the term “Champion,” preferring the term “Guardian.”  We do not want somebody to make their idea into more than it is or allow it to be discounted below its worth.  We want them to protect it for what it is, guard it.  Do not expand it or detract it but protect it for what it is.  Here is how to facilitate the communications plan for a meeting, to homogenize the rhetoric so that everyone’s superiors and other stakeholders hear the same message.

Purpose of Guardian of Change

Empirical research shows that it is best to guard and protect communications than to simply shout out.  Different audiences need different parts of the message, and may react differently to descriptive terms used and the media used to communicate results.

The overall purpose is to get a group to agree on how it will communicate the results of its meeting and workshop efforts to others.  Students that rely on study groups average a GPA that is 0.50 points higher than students without groups.  Why?  Socialization.

Rationale for Guardian of Change

At minimum, team members need an “elevator speech” that can deliver an effective synopsis of the meeting results.  At the other extreme, if the meeting is strategic, there could be various audiences such as investment community, suppliers, etc.  If so, identify the key audience members before discussing the message, medium of communication, and frequency of communication for each.

Ensure that your participants sounds like they attended the same meeting together.  Secure their agreement on the rhetoric to describe your meeting results.  Typically, the two major audiences are:

  1. What do we tell our bosses or superiors ?
  2. What do we tell people dependent  on our results ?

Method for Guardian of Change

After identifying the target audiences, ask for each, “What are we going to tell _____?”  List the messages as bullet points that begin to homogenize (ie, create consistency) the meeting participants’ descriptions in the hallway about what was accomplished.

If necessary, discuss HOW TO communicate with the target audience such as face-to-face, email, etc.  For complicated communications plans, further discuss frequency or how often to set-up regular communications.  It may be necessary to schedule the communications so that the superiors are informed before other stakeholders.  Failing to plan, meeting participants will use different methods and different rhetoric that will generate different understanding among stakeholders that may require shared or at least similar understanding.

Be proactive. Provide a 3-30 Report, a summary of results to take no longer than 30 minutes to write and no longer than three minutes to read and reply.  The 3-30 Report serves executives and other team members who are interested but not fully invested.

Become Part of the SolutionImprove Your Facilitation and Methodology Skills

First of all, go to the Facilitation Training Store https://mgrush.com/shop/ to access our in-house resources. There you will find annotated agendas, break timers and templates used in our FAST Professional Leadership, Facilitation, and Methodology workshop.

Furthermore, the FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual. Attend a FAST Professional Leadership, Facilitation, and Methodology workshop offered around the world. See MG Rush for a current schedule. FAST provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, or 3.2 CEUs.

Finally, don’t forget to order Change or Die if you’re working on a business process improvement project. Change or Die provides detailed workshop agendas and numerous tools. It will make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective.

We dare you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

 

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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