POP stands for “Purpose, Outcomes and Process” and is a great way to organize your own thinking and align with a team about what you are trying to accomplish together. We learned this process from the Rockwood Institute and have found it can be used for designing a meeting agenda and for communicating a new strategy idea. Consultant Suzanne Hawkes summarizes the idea here.
At Sea Change, we used POP to develop agendas for meetings and also to clarify next steps when we were planning for something in the future. Every meeting starts with a review of purpose (why are we here?), outcomes (what do we need to get done?) and process (how are we going to get there?) so we can all be on the same page about how we’re spending our time in the meeting. It’s a shockingly simple strategy that helps you avoid meandering and disorganized meetings or meetings for meetings’ sake. If you’re hosting the meeting and strapped for time, you can use the first 5 minutes of the meeting to “POP” the meeting together, so you can still all leave with a sense of accomplishment, clear next steps, and having used your time well.
Collaboration designer Eugene Kim and colleagues created these collaboration mindset cards to help build culture and expectations within groups. At Sea Change, we started many partnerships by sharing these collaboration mindsets and identifying those which we and our partners thought would be most and least helpful. For the Culture Change Strategy Group and other collaborations with more than 5 stakeholders, we shared an online survey and then discussed the results as a group; for smaller-scale partnerships, we discussed the mindsets together and settled on which we most and least wanted to embody. You can use these mindsets to refer back to as you create group culture (for example, Sea Change frequently referred to the mindset “good enough is good enough” within our work to stop perfectionism from getting in our way), as well as discuss them when you evaluate your partnerships.
Wise Counsel (also known as Troika Consulting) will help you receive feedback or ideas in a way you can actually hear, and give feedback or ideas in a way you can be heard.
Wise Counsel is a quick way to act as a “consultant” or to seek counsel from others. At Sea Change, we used it with the Culture Change Strategy Group to workshop strategies. Essentially, in groups of three, the “client” shares their situation and question in <2 minutes, two “consultants” ask clarifying questions for <2 minutes, then the client turns around to listen while 2 “consultants” remain face-to-face and discuss the question (5 minutes). By turning around and not looking at the consultants, the client is better able to listen and not interrupt the feedback; consultants are able to speak more freely and to share ideas without interruption or unneeded clarification. Check out the guide here.
Open communication is the only way to build the trust needed to sustain successful partnerships. Debriefing regularly with partners--evaluating how things are going, talking about what’s working well, troubleshooting what’s not working well--allows small problems to be aired and solved before they become big problems, helps you determine what needs to be changed, and allows you to celebrate your successes. We recommend starting every collaboration with a debriefing/evaluation plan in place, and touching base at least mid-point through a project and at the end of every project. This debriefing template from the Management Center is a simple way to capture your insights and identify how to move forward.
Like any relationships, partnerships go through many stages over their life course, each with different strengths, challenges and opportunities. This partnerships map from the DIY Toolkit helps you identify and discuss what stage your partnership is at, and where you’d like to be, then provides activities to get you from one stage to another.
Hungry for more? Good--the world desperately needs better and more productive meetings!. Here are some of our favorite sites where you can find other creative strategies to make shift happen.
Liberating Structures: A thoughtful and very clearly explained repository of facilitation techniques that engage all participants, spur original thought, and shake up the standard meeting format.
Gamestorming: A creative directory of innovative and engaging facilitation “games.” Searchable by purpose or browsable.
Seeds for Change: A directory of timeless facilitation basics to get you started.