I recently completed an ILM programme in wellbeing coaching. In the days that followed I got to thinking. How could I take the essence of my learning to help others, beyond the few coachees I could work with at any one time? How could I help people to think about their wellbeing and their health, and make positive change? The answer seemed to be a workshop of sorts. Creating a space in which people could explore how they feel about their wellbeing. A space to encourage reflection, planning, change. So I wrote the outline of a workshop. I sent it to a colleague who helped shape it. I put a post on our internal network to see if anyone was interested in trying it out. Within a couple of hours I had an email from someone who is running a team event and would love to try it – the day after tomorrow. From concept to delivery = 11 days.
My point is this. The workshop might be useful (I think it is, I hope it is). It might not be. But we will find out. The content might not be perfect or polished. But it is out there in the world. The team know what they are getting: an experiment. In return, I will get feedback. The workshop will then get better for the next time.
I have worked in organisations where this would not be possible. Where I would have needed sign off and a project plan and a formal pilot with a de-brief and a lessons learned wash up. A concept and a terms of reference and some aims and objectives and so on and so on.
There is so much stuff in organisations that slows down the doing. Sometimes, we strive for perfection when good enough might be good enough. Other times, it is because of the ways of working, culture, bureaucracy.
In my experience, here are some of the worst offenders.
Voice is important. So is collaboration, diversity of thought. But you can do too much of it. If you have to get the opinion of every man and his whippet, you will not only slow the work down but risk diluting it. You can never take into account or accommodate every single opinion and item on the wish list. Talk to enough people (the right people) to get a range of views, and the push ahead.
Setting up a working party
The first meeting will inevitably be spent talking about the purpose of the working party and agreeing some terms of reference and a reporting mechanism. The second meeting can be used to sign these off. By about meeting five, you might start getting some actual work done.
Having too many people in the room
Jeff Bezos from Amazon is known for his two pizza rule. Never hold a meeting in which two pizzas can’t feed everyone there. We all know what happens when we have too many people in a meeting room. The introverts and reflectors get lost, their voices unheard. The meeting loafers sit back, taking no actions or responsibilities. Groupthink kicks in. Everything. Slows. Right. Down.
Having too much project bureaucracy
Taking minutes, circulating them for comment, singing them off, apologies, action logs, printed papers…… You might need this stuff if you are doing highly complex work. Massive projects. Work were at some point in the future, someone will really need to look back to see what was decided and why. But you don’t need to do this for everything. When you have a set of minutes and an action log circulated after a meeting, you can pretty much guarantee that its main use will be someone opening it just before the next meeting to see what they had forgotten they were supposed to do. Just make sure everyone knows what they need to be doing and crack on.
Sometimes we need governance, structure, data, reflection and perfection. Sometimes we just need to JFDI. If it’s good enough for jazz, go play.