The collective intelligence agenda item inside the weekly meeting is one of the most valuable parts of the weekly meeting. This is where decision-makers learn all the data and facts, debate the merits of ideas and most importantly make decisions to help the business pulse faster.
But there are seven important aspects to making collective intelligence work well in your company. We discuss these and detail how you can make weekly meetings more effective using the power of collective intelligence.
Collective intelligence, the key to a successful weekly meeting
Episode 58 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
Brad Giles 00:13
Welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything that we talked about is building enduring great companies i’m Brad Giles. And as always, I’m joined today by Kevin Lawrence, my co host. Today, Kevin, how are you doing today?
Kevin Lawrence 00:29
doing awesome. Excited to be here a bit of a long day. It’s a but I’m actually really looking forward to our show. I think it’s gonna be a good one.
Brad Giles 00:38
Yes. It’s been 12 hours, I believe so far that you’ve been in the seat. So thank you for joining us, I and our audience, appreciate your long delay and your continued efforts to help everyone to build enduring great company. So as always, we’d like to start with a word or phrase of the day. And that’s really because it’s we’re encouraging that as a best practice at meetings for listeners. It’s just a nice, simple way to begin. So Kevin, what might be your beginning phrase or word of the day?
Kevin Lawrence 01:16
Mine is engaged family. Now, would you like to hear a little more?
Brad Giles 01:25
I would be interested to hear a bit more about engaged family. Yeah,
Kevin Lawrence 01:29
well, you know, I just had some awesome experiences with family and friends and just you just reminder of what makes life awesome, you know, when Mother’s Day here last night, and so had dinner with my mom and family. And that was great. And just some of the good stories in connection, it was nice to hug my parents again with a wearing a mask, because they’re, you know, they’ve got their vaccination. I just got mine yesterday and have the sore arm to prove it. So that was that was good. And it was just a great my son and I went for a spectacular drive. And I had some really great quality time with some good friends who were there with their sons. There was no daughters of this one but their sons at doing some kart racing and car racing. So just there was all but it was all like kind of family. You know, it was it was awesome experiences. And, and friends and family. But we’re real close, tight knit family, and just how powerful that is. And, you know, in in these kind of crazy times, you’ve gone through how powerful our families are. And unfortunately, some people haven’t been able to have the time with their families. So you know, that I have been able to so I’m feel very grateful and appreciative of that, and just how families can drive us crazy sometimes, but how amazing it can be. So whether it’s your, you know, an adopted family, a family that you kind of pull yourself to, or the family that you grew up with? Yeah, just that’s the greatness of being connected with the family.
Brad Giles 03:00
It’s so lovely. That’s so lovely, minus nothing, nothing at all like that.
Kevin Lawrence 03:06
So lovely. Yes, mine
Brad Giles 03:08
is a load of rubbish compared to that. Now mine is inflation to go to the absolute opposite end of the spectrum. Look, I guess what’s on my mind, I saw this. Berkshire Hathaway had their their meeting, obviously, you know, one of the size times
Kevin Lawrence 03:25
a year. That’s right, yeah.
Brad Giles 03:26
So that just came out. And and there was a bit of an analysis about, you know, what are they reading in terms of inflation? And, you know, you I, so for example, I can quite so many stats on it right now, but one of them still is 1.5 times higher than the long term average. You know, in terms of inflation. Alone, they expect? No, that’s what it’s selling it right now. So, yeah, you can go through I saw that, in baby diapers, they’re going up in price, because there was a problem with one of the products, the absorbent products. So there’s there’s a lot of supply chain issues throughout the world that are through different natural disasters, and obviously COVID and people shutting down plants and computer chips. So it’s just yeah, it’s just on my mind has all of that translating? You know, record low, if not, no interest rates on money. So it’s super cheap to borrow money, things are going up really, really fast. It’s a really dynamic economy at the moment, and well, that’s kind of what’s on my mind, what was playing on my mind? How does this all how to all of these really rapidly changing things? I mean, yeah, I could go on about that. But I won’t in the interest of have our listeners sanity. But it is, but it is.
Kevin Lawrence 05:03
But it is interesting because the amount of inflation that we’re experiencing in some cases here, right like in Canada, it’s crazy. I mean, there’s a real estate inflation was just happening, but they’re just the actual some goods are going up dramatically because of the supply chain and the resource costs. And basic things we it’s, it’s a man what I know what I love about when we’re going through crazy times like this both good and bad. is we just remember, it’s like a roller coaster. Yeah, it goes up it goes through periods of up and then down generally, like with, you know, prices generally always trend up over time. But there is these roles that you’re going to go through. And you’ll get another quote thinking of speaking of Berkshire Hathaway. And by the way, I went to the annual Annual General Meeting of Berkshire probably about a decade ago. Oh, wow. If I shared that with you. Yeah, that was my experience. Yeah, it was awesome. Two have the smartest men without a doubt in the world in business, who don’t really care about pleasing anyone. Yeah. And oh, my gosh, the truth that they dished out. And Warren is the chairman with Charlie Munger. Oh my gosh, I fell in love with that, man. He’s amazing. Yeah. A bright mind, holy planet. There’s a quote from Buffett, I think, appropriately attributed Buffett is that when people are greedy, be fearful. When people are fearful, be greedy. And, you know, just just just do something sometimes looking the opposite way. And knowing that things go through cycles, it’s it’s part of its alright. So we’re talking about connected families. Thinking about inflation. Boy, that’s a weird concoction. Yeah,
Brad Giles 06:45
I was always gonna join the lady.
Kevin Lawrence 06:48
You know, I, you know, I just gonna throw the words together, Brad, because I don’t see, you know, so it’s fat connected family inflation. Now, that could be like families growing, you know, like, you know, where’s families going? It’s almost like inflating the family. Yeah, I’ll leave it there. Let’s move on. So what are we talking about today? Brad, let’s quickly skip pass. What are we talking about today? Yeah, let’s
Brad Giles 07:09
quickly move on. today. Look, this is such a great one. collective intelligence, the key to the weekly meeting. So there’s a prescriptive gender for the weekly meeting that most of us have read, and it contains this item called collective intelligence. And many of us have asked, What is collective intelligence? And why is it important? And so if you’ve got a one hour one, for example, hypothetically, a one hour weekly meeting, and you’re dedicating about 30 minutes to this thing called collective intelligence? What is it? Why is it How does it work? So yeah, today we’re talking about collective intelligence. And this is the key to the weekly meeting. There are, we’ve spoken before about the weekly meeting. And there are many important bits to it, looking at the numbers, looking at the employee and the customer data, a lot of those kinds of things. But then this is called collective intelligence. So we’re going to dig into what is it? Why does it matter? a really interesting chat about this time when you’ve got all of the brains in the room. And that’s really to begin what we’ve got to start with, what is the definition of the word?
Kevin Lawrence 08:30
Yeah, and and let’s just start with most people never get to collective intelligence, they get to collective boredom. Yeah, ie, weekly meetings are having this, imagine this brilliant strategy. Let’s get the smartest people in the company. We’ll put them together in a room for 90 minutes a week. And we’ll bore the hell out of them will make them sit and listen to each other ramble on with updates, and give 10 minute explanations for something that could be covered in 30 seconds. So that’s what we’re going to do. kind of sounds like listening to a professor, you know, sometimes do lectures, but worse. So so that’s but in most meetings don’t ever get here. And this is the magic opportunity. We don’t need your endless PowerPoints. We don’t need the endless feel graphs and charts. We do need some of that stuff. Yeah, way too much time is gone to collective updates, which is a much nicer way than saying boredom than collective intelligence. So the key thing is, it’s a massive missed opportunity. That gets better ideas, faster decisions, Alliance, people’s thinking aligns teams, and it sounds like a building up to be a lot. Because it is
Brad Giles 09:50
because it is because it is weekly meeting is kind of when you pulse the business. You get all of the decision. mica is all of the the bright people in the business in the leadership team nominally this is you know, best practice and applying best practice best into your situation as you see fit. That’s the disclaimer. But get all the bright people in the leadership team together, we go through the important key things in five minute punches like, okay, let’s give us the update is that red or green? What’s happening here? What’s happening there? So we’ve got that over about 20 or 25 minutes. And then we move into this 30 minute collective intelligence where we’ve got, we’ve got through all of that stuff. We’re avoiding rambling, I love that word rambling, because I feel it so often in leadership team meetings, and it’s just like, timeout, that 10 minutes summary, can you do it in 30 seconds? Because that’s what matters. So but but but they have 10 minutes. So they want to
Kevin Lawrence 10:54
use their time. Like they want their time. And it’s like, they don’t know that that time is low value compared to a higher value thing later. Yeah. Because they don’t have the discipline to carve out the time for this.
Brad Giles 11:07
Yes. Carve out. So we’re allocating 30 minutes. And it’s the more
Kevin Lawrence 11:13
or more or more,
Brad Giles 11:15
okay, that’s a fair point, nominally 30 or more. So if this means that we are assembling the leadership team, the collective intelligence of the business altogether, then the question is, well, how do we get the best return on investment for that time? Well, we’ve got to pose the most important challenges or problems or questions to those people in a highly structured manner, so that we can resolve, rectify, solve, answer those questions or problems.
Kevin Lawrence 11:53
Yes, and I want to give an example, I gotta give a shout out, like to my team, because they are really good at making this happen. And every week we do this, as I mentioned, we do our meeting in the evenings, because we’re, you know, usually working during the day, and we can always be available. And we’ve got some people on the East Coast, and it’s really late for them. But we have actually another type I just realized there, Brad is it sometimes it’s problem solving, or, or working through something. Sometimes it’s actually sharing our most intelligent ideas, ie as coaches and consultants, the team will present some awesome work they’ve done or a brilliant model, but no matter. So sometimes it’s about a decision. And sometimes it’s about actually just getting smarter as a group. Yeah, yeah. And so that’s another angle. And again, every culture and every team is different, but it’s enhancing the cognitive, or the, the abilities and understanding of the team decisions or otherwise. So just sort of a side thought that just came to me. So let’s jump in, we got some points. So this, this, this, this, this, these meet this part of the meeting is insanely valuable. and engaging. And, and really smart, successful, people want to be a part of meetings where they get to use the brain. So but the first thing is to be aware of the value of this time. Again, if it’s your senior team, it’s your moment. Well, it’s the most senior people within your team, because it’s you and your team, or your company, if it’s the executive team does not it applies to all teams, though. It’s, you know, an hour to an hour and a half every single week, you got all the decision makers, they’re like, this is like prime prime prime time. And if you’re putting a number on it over the course of the year, the number adds up to be pretty substantial as well. So it’s, it’s critical, and there’s no, generally it’s hard to get everyone in a room and other times. And if you don’t have these debates, you kind of miss out on the opportunity for alignment and progress.
Brad Giles 13:54
Yeah, yeah, I’m understanding that. I’ve seen many people say to what do we do for half an hour like? Well, what you do is my God, that so many people have said that, what do we do for half an hour in with the leadership team, like, we’re just going to pull up all problems that we’ve got or whatever? Well, understanding that this is a gift, this is a gift is 30 minutes, and we need to make the most of it. But it’s a very, very expensive gift that can make the business posts so much faster. So don’t fall into the old rhythms of rambling and talking about stuff just as they pop into your head. And, and so, I guess when you understand the value of the time or the cost of the time, you can also understand the potential of the time. So what if, every single week you solved a big problem or To resolve the big issue or addressed a big challenge that you’re facing, or broke down and big opportunity, something like there was one big thing. And you had a really intense structured debate every single week. That might sound a bit strange for the first few weeks. But when you get into that rhythm, you pulse so much faster.
Kevin Lawrence 15:23
Yeah, and together because you’re debating and agreeing around these, so it’s insanely valuable. And it’s, it’s it’s insanely impactful 30 or 60 minutes away. So number two, is you gotta agree on the questions that you’re gonna debate. Like, what is the real question? And that’s, that’s the key. We watch teams try to do this. And they’ll just start talking about something. And we’re like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, timeout? what’s what’s, what’s an favorite question? What’s the question we’re trying to answer here?
Brad Giles 15:58
Kevin Lawrence 15:59
Right. What is the question? And it’s not what the idea is. And often, as you know, as coaches and facilitator, we’re trying to boil things out, what’s the question? What are we trying to answer? And if you start with that, it locks everyone’s brain onto Okay, we’re trying to figure out, for example, I might share with you earlier with our team meeting we had earlier today, how do we measure the impact our firm is having on our clients? Right, and that is the question. And, and so as we dug into, we further refined the question. And then we had a debate and we went all over the road, we went over here and over there, what about this and, and, and, and it was going nowhere, and all of a sudden, one guy goes, No, Brett on my team goes, I think it’s a direct impact an indirect, that’s what we’re looking for. Direct is what we can directly see by the people that we directly engage with. Indirect is the ripple effect that we’re having, by working through those leaders on the whole organization. And, and, and, you know, and we don’t know which ones right? Yeah, but we know what we’re gonna pay attention to both. Because there is a direct and there is an indirect and and and and the indirect it might be a better feel better number because it’s bigger, the direct is more tangible will be might miss some of the point of it is debate, debate debate. We landed it, we built a model, and then we actioned it. So is this one thing going to change the world? No. But that’s another thing our team is aligned around. It’s another thing that helps us to track the progress of our team in our firm. And we agreed on it, and that we can move on to whatever the next thing is, and it’s the item is closed. And but but we needed all the brains in the room to get there and to align around it. Go ahead, Brad.
Brad Giles 17:57
And so what are the big issues that you need to resolve? So it’s, it might be worth keeping a running list of potential issues that you’ve got to resolve that, you know, you you need to actually thrash out as a team. I love I love this quote by Albert Einstein. He says, If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solutions. Now that’s Einstein, not you and I. Okay. Yeah, but but what it really
Kevin Lawrence 18:37
save and flip it around. I’d spend five minutes figuring out the question.
Brad Giles 18:42
Yeah. You know, how
Kevin Lawrence 18:44
much of an improvement it would be if people spent five minutes trying to figure out the damn question. Yeah, I was interesting,
Brad Giles 18:52
because huge improvement,
Kevin Lawrence 18:54
huge. When we don’t when we do a lot of our quarterly strap plantings. There’s a lot of debates we have around key issues like a lot of collective intelligence. And it seems to be easier to have us run those parts of meetings, then then the then the team. But we spend time upfront, Scott was scoping out what are the discussions we want to have? What is the question and actually spending time up front to get to the root of it? And it’s it’s actually it’s work to figure it out. When we do the work. It’s easier, but it’s work to figure out,
Brad Giles 19:25
you got to have the right question if you’re going to spend 30 minutes, which is very expensive and potentially could create a great result spending time as team understanding, right? This is the real question. What’s the real issue and this is the real question that we need to resolve as a team.
Kevin Lawrence 19:43
Right? That does makes it so much easier,
Brad Giles 19:46
but that doesn’t happen on the day. Most of the time. I want to be really clear about it. Most of the time. We want we want to think about it beforehand. We want to come with an opinion and also And this really leads into number three, we want to go before it before. Yes.
Kevin Lawrence 20:04
Okay, sorry. I would say before you do, I want to stay allow for the people that like to run a little loose and a little freestyle, right? That, you know, and I’m probably I’m a little more freestyle than you, you’re a little more more more more organized Regiment, Regiment, or both are good. But for those freestylers out there, it’s okay to lay down the question live in the meeting, I think there’s a lot of times when we can, especially on a weekly, and if you can be prepared, it’s better in case sometimes, but sometimes it’s better to run with it. Right there in the moment. And and and it’s okay to do both.
Brad Giles 20:41
So the freaky weird part of me, which is quite a large part response to that by saying, I don’t want people to get 25 minutes into a meeting, and then say, Okay, now we’ve got 30 minutes for collective intelligence, what should we talk about? And it just falls down to an unorganized rebel? So we’re in the middle, right.
Kevin Lawrence 21:05
And the freaky weird part of me would say is the way you if you run your meeting, right, you should be asking about in our agendas, you know, what are the challenges or opportunities and flushing some of that stuff out earlier in the meeting? So for example, in our agenda, by the time we got there, we had, you know, seven things that we needed to talk about most of us, most of which are related to our quarterly rocks or quarterly goals. Yeah, we’ve already pre flushed the motor as as, as the great Jim Collins would say, you know, in the first part of that meeting, you’re mining for brutal facts, mining, it’s like a mining expert, expert expedition. And then in the collective intelligence, then you’re processing or dealing with some of those brutal facts that you need to debate. So, but yeah, you don’t want to sit there with it being crickets. But I think if you have the right agenda, you’ve, you’ve flushed them out. Or, alternatively, as Brad would prefer. And I think it’s also a good discipline, you pre decide these things. So you’ve got a week or two to get ready for it. And I agree, like even on ours, we are today on a meeting, we’re putting a couple of weeks out some topics that we wanted to dig into a little bit further, and then we’ll have time to be prepared. Okay. So back to number three, Brad over to you.
Brad Giles 22:22
They prepared. Sometimes things will pop up. And you need, like you’ve said the need to do it. But like in terms of a structure being prepared. So if we know the question number two, we know what the question is, then we move to Well, we’ve got to agree on a desired outcome. What is the outcome that we’re looking for from this meeting, we want to resolve this, we want to make a decision on that we want to whatever it is, what is the outcome that we need to get, and then allocate a presenter to the topic. So as someone who’s going to, let’s say, run or chair, the presentation, now that might mean that they’ll come prepared with two or three PowerPoint slides, for example, it doesn’t need to be 100 slides. But there is a succinct clarity of the question. There may be supporting data to that, so that everybody in the meeting understands all of the the facts and the situation and where we’re at. So someone to come prepared and present and to kind of own that, and facilitate that, that discussion.
Kevin Lawrence 23:39
Yeah. And on that they kind of lay down everything that we know, which is great. And what I have learned is, when you ask the head of r&d, to come make a presentation on this important decision you want to make this is like their life’s work or reflection. They want to give you a 60 minute presentation. And so here’s the pro tip. You tell how whatever the time is on the agenda 1/3 of it goes to presenting two thirds as debate.
Brad Giles 24:12
Kevin Lawrence 24:14
And you can even take it down to 20 a quarter present. So for example, we got a 30 minute slot for that critical topic. Yep, we and we use timers like I set my phone as loud as it’ll go. We set a timer, you have 10 minutes to present. And then there’s 20 minutes to debate. And even with the 20 minutes to debate, I’ll set the timer 15. So I’ve got a 15 minute buffer,
Brad Giles 24:38
because it always spills over a little bit and to wrap up to a solid close. So let’s go to a hypothetical sales manager is going to present on the underperformance of the geography. Yep. We’re going to the leadership team is going to talk about it. We’re going to allocate 30 minutes in our weekly meeting to it. We want you to To present all of the facts, all of the data for 10 minutes for the first 10 minutes, and then we’ll discuss and debate it for the following 20 minutes. And then this is the outcome that we want to, we want to either decide to a turnaround plan for that geography or we want to shut it down. That’s the decision that we’ve got to make, right? That’s a hypothetical. Yep. Then what is the sales manager think? Like? How do I present all of the information like, that is what we that’s his job.
Kevin Lawrence 25:29
That’s his job.
Brad Giles 25:30
I agree. But we want him to do, we don’t want anyone,
Kevin Lawrence 25:34
we want him to think for three hours, yes. and organize for six hours, if needed, I’m exaggerating. So that in eight to 10 minutes, he can make a beautiful presentation only of only what matters
Brad Giles 25:48
is going, sorry. And going back. Okay, if he doesn’t come prepared, he’ll just sprout off opinions as they pop into his head. And it won’t be a meaningful discussion. If instead, he comes in with that preparation that you’ve discussed. This is the this is the trade data for the geography. This is what our competitors are doing. This is the the conversion rate,
Kevin Lawrence 26:18
clearly and succinctly with what we or he shows us that he’s not as good as we thought he is. That’s a whole, you know,
Brad Giles 26:26
so we set a pointer to our job
Kevin Lawrence 26:28
to set them up to win.
Brad Giles 26:30
Kevin Lawrence 26:32
otherwise, he’s going to make a 30 minute presentation, we’re going to run at a time, we’re not going to get a decision, it’s going to be frustrated. So and in that case, you know, if it was something that important, yeah, I would say, you know, eight to 10 minutes to present, I would set a timer for eight, he’d be finished presenting by 10. And then we would just ask a lot of questions. Yeah. Yeah. And debate and debate and debate. And and no way that’s a big decision. But that’s, it’s just it. Also, when you tell people in advance, they prepare differently. Sometimes they present a lot of stuff. So it’s the end of the day we over present and under discussed that is the root of this over present, under discuss and collective intelligence is about discussing, and asking questions. So I think that’s,
Brad Giles 27:19
that’s, and as someone who’s done that, I love it when people come into the meeting. And they said, Well, before I saw that presentation, this was my opinion. And now that I understand the facts, I have a new opinion. Like, that is an outcome and record presentation. So let’s move on to number four.
Kevin Lawrence 27:39
And I would say is, before you do, you know, if you’re really want to have it really wanted him to nail it, I would tell him to run it by finance before he comes in. You’re one of my favorites. And some of the best, you know, cpmg companies make a finance person be a part of any and every presentation. Because finance is the source of truth. The truth is numbers in business. So if you want to really double people’s odds have finance involved in the preparation, because finances, the source of numbers are the ideal source of numbers. Anyway, just a side note. Okay, let’s move on number four
Brad Giles 28:15
rules of engagement. So we’re coming prepared, but then how do we avoid the meeting descending into anarchie? How do we avoid the meeting descending into people or threatens people? You know, get into arguments? Well, you know, we want to have a set of rules to say when we come together. This is how we play fairly. This is how we argue and debate fairly. And so for me, I’ve got a set of rules that I play by every time I present to a quarterly off site workshop with the leadership team, I go through these three rules of engagement. So first of all, is brutal honesty, it’s incumbent on you to say the things that need to be said. And no point walking away saying we didn’t talk about this, and we didn’t talk about that. Number two is no shame and no blame. So we’re not here to shame people. And we’re not here to blame people. And then number three is disagree and commit. And that means that there may be things that you disagree with, that we as a team, agree to execute, but you will commit to their success for execution. So those three things come from Jim Collins Good to Great when he analysis analysis or analyze 1435 companies distilled them down to 11. Those were the traits that all of those 11 great companies had in their leadership teams, those behavioral traits. And so that’s why that’s what we I use as the rules of engagement in the meetings that I conduct. And that’s kind of what we advocate for here too.
Kevin Lawrence 30:03
Yeah, and, and, and those are all set, you can make up your own, it doesn’t matter, we button ones even in some companies, when we work with companies to develop these, when we do a lot of debating, some people have a mechanism where you raise your hand if you’re going to speak, but and you let the other person finish first. Others have one, like, leave it all on the table. ie, if everything is don’t hold back, and if you if you’ve held something back, make sure you save it before the meeting leaves. Another one is is if you disagree after you leave the room, you communicate back with the entire group. Yeah, but you’ve got a bit of an issue that needs to be discussed. You don’t go and lobby one person at a time.
You know, there’s every everybody’s got different things, you know, other people another one whereas is it you know, that that once you and once you commit, you make sure you stay 100% supportive outside the room and don’t undermine every everyone’s got their own little glitches. But it’s super important. We have those rules of engagement. And you can just brainstorm what do we think we need to agree to, to be effective debates, and and be an effective team. It’s great to make sure that make sure Jeff ski was the coach of the massively winning Duke basketball program. He coached the US men’s Olympic team, I think a couple of times one is an assistant one is the full coach, outstanding coach.
This is what he does with all of his teams when he starts with them, especially the Olympic team, because he got the highest paid athletes in the world. He can’t come in and tell them what to do. They make their own set of rules, including even how they respect the people that are cleaning the locker rooms and taking care of them. But it’s a it’s a wonderful team activity. So the point of it is is to have 234 or five of these, his was actually 12 on one of his sets he shared Yeah, but still to have a handful of basic rules that we stick to and and I recommend, put them at the top of the agenda for a while until they get burned into your DNA. Awesome. Cool. Number five. Helpful Cassandra’s. Brad’s looking at me funny, cuz that’s not what we have written down in our prep notes. So Andy Grove, from Intel, in his book, high output management has this thing called helpful Cassandra’s. And he made sure that there was one on every team or project he was part of. And this is the person that would tell him he had spinach in his teeth, or that he just had a really bad idea.
These are people that will often have contrary opinions, and disagree with it and find the problems and the holes and whatever the hell it is that you have. And the point of it is, is you know, it’s very easy to surround yourself with people who and it’s frictionless to surround yourself with people who agree with your brilliant ideas, except for when you’re not that brilliant. So you gotta ask for and have people who will bring contrary opinions and appreciate them. So he said, without that he’s in deep trouble. because too many people agree with him. And when he’s wrong, people still agree with him. But he always made sure there was a person on those teams that would call him on stuff I’ve got, I’ve got one person on my team, who is a master of this. And not only disagreeing, but coming up with total ideas in way different directions, like, we’re all running down the center of the road. He’s like 500 miles off to the left in another world. And it’s awesome. It’s awesome, because it creates better debates, and it shakes things up. And not just Anyway, I’m going off with this one. So in need contrary opinions, and you got to appreciate them and thank them for this guy to my team. I thank them all the time publicly, privately, even though I disagree with them a whole bunch. Yes,
Brad Giles 34:06
like rapport now you’ll see debates, that’s the value. So in the context of the weekly meeting, what we’re and specifically collective intelligence, we’ve had a person who’s presented and they have spent a substantial amount of time hopefully, preparing to present and we’ve got to find a gap in the next 20 minutes where we’re debating to say, okay, who has a different opinion? Who can mount a case to challenge what’s what’s, you know, been said here? It’s just a simple question. But if we can plug that in there, it can make a really big difference and you can unlock some shyness perhaps where people are thinking something but not saying it which is what we want.
Kevin Lawrence 35:05
Can people trade positions against instead of four. So that’s, that’s something that you can, it’s a technique that you can try in terms of just shaking it up. So whether it’s an individual reversing arguments, you just got to look at the other side sometimes, or you could look at the option of not doing what you’re talking about doing. So get contrary opinions and appreciate them, value them.
And be careful that you’re not just shutting them down, which is easy to do. Number six, was kind of covered off a little bit by your rules of engagement, but it’s, you know, it’s it’s disagree and commit, or, you know, agree to disagree, which basically means, at some point, if you have all these awesome contrary opinions, not everyone’s going to agree, and if you go for consensus on every decision, you probably won’t make any, some, some you will. But at some point, you gotta, you gotta find a way to say, okay, disagree and commit, and someone’s gonna call it and it’d be like, you know, Brad, if you and I disagree on it be like, okay, I’d say to Brad, Brad, can you? You know, I feel very passionate about this. Can you live with supporting the way I’m proposing it? Yeah. And if Brad says no, okay, well, then we have to continue. But sometimes you just almost have to ask for support to push ahead. Otherwise, you get stuck. It’s it’s a, it’s a very important thing to do. So you don’t get lost in ongoing debate, especially for low value or low impact things.
Brad Giles 36:38
There’s a there’s a, an ocean of difference between agreed to disagree, and disagree and commit. So agree to disagree means that we leave this argument or this debate in an unresolved state, and you maintain your opinion, and I maintain mine, the sea of differences that when we say disagree and commit, what we’re saying is, okay, I’ve voiced that I disagree with this. But as a team, I commit to the successful execution of this project. And some people, you know, have said to me in those types of meetings, okay, well, I’m going to agree to disagree. And I said, That’s not a closure, okay? Because we’re walking away with different personalities that lend it’s a sea of difference, like we can’t let agree to disagree. get in the way of disagreeing commit, because the worst possible thing that you can do is go six weeks into a 13. Week, quarter and say, Kevin, I told you that wasn’t gonna work anyway. Yeah. Cuz you
Kevin Lawrence 37:48
and by the way, when I was saying agree to disagree, I was having the same meaning of my mind as you’re disagreeing commit. Yes. Is you agree to disagree, and you’re like, joined in harmony to push ahead. Yeah, but disagree. And commit is probably a better distinction, because it has the commit part. It’s like, okay, Brad, Brad would say, Well, I disagree with what you’re saying. But I’m going to commit to it. And I’m going to work with you to make it happen. Yep. Yeah. Which is agreeing to disagree. It almost could still feel like a standoff, which is not good. We do not want that. You want to say have said your piece? And let’s move on. Yeah. And let’s move on together and make it happen. Yes,
Brad Giles 38:31
Kevin Lawrence 38:32
it’s also important and important, because that way you can call the question, as I mentioned earlier, and you can move on and sometimes in a room, someone’s just kind of said, hey, can we disagree, but still support it. And then let’s move and commit to moving on.
Brad Giles 38:50
Yeah. Again, to close that out. The worst thing that can happen is you’re midway through a quarter and someone’s actively undermining the decision, like the damage to Team harmony is is just awful. Okay. So on that subject, let’s move on to the final number seven, clarity on the decision. So the objective is we collective intelligence is to get an outcome every week. It’s a component of the weekly meeting, because we want to get an outcome. We want to get a presentation, we want to get an understanding of the facts, but we’re going in knowing the answer that we want to get. So if we’re going in knowing the answer that we want to get, we’ve got to get the answer. We’ve got to get the decision. The reason that we’ve got all of the collective intelligence, all of the leadership team, some of the smartest or most capable people in the business in the room is to get the answer. So don’t walk away from collective intelligence without the decision or the answer. And, you know, here’s another little tip favorite of mine is, okay. So we’re going to add plan is to go and build a plan. One. Okay, so we’ve just come together as a group to, for the purpose of building a 90 day plan, and your plan is that you’re going to go and build a plan. So we don’t want to not good enough. No, we don’t want to end a meeting like that saying, Okay, I’m going to go and build a plan, because like, it’s about decisions.
Kevin Lawrence 40:34
Yes. And I think on this, and as simple as it sounds, what we find especially is in this in this COVID world, when we’re doing virtual meetings, is that you type the decision on screen and people can see it, okay, here’s the decision, because sometimes people hear it, but they don’t hear it. Okay, Fred, is going to go and do X, Y, Z, by doing ABC by a certain date. Right? But it’s little, we put it all on us know what I meant, and and how many times that’s helped us, because we’re putting these on screen, to be able to lock it down and saying here is the exact action who, what and when is going to happen.
It’s super important. So let’s have some seven awesome points. So if we go back into the top, our whole thing is here is how do you leverage the power of the most impactful brands on your team? Right, and it’s this collective intelligence should be part of the weekly meeting, the same discipline should hold true in your monthly and quarterly and annual meetings where you have robust debates to make important decisions. And so you don’t run through the first three here, Brad, you can do the rest, is that you know, aware of the value of the time that is rare, important time, it could be the most important time of that week for that whole team agree on the question upfront, what is the question we are trying to answer, then be prepared. Ideally, if you’ve done it in advance, if it’s on the spot, do your best. If it’s in advance, someone can come prepared with as much data and facts and understanding of the current situation. And then rules a game for engagement. So you get everybody participating, you need everyone to be contributing to the discussion.
Brad Giles 42:17
Yes, and then we are moving to ask for country opinions. So we want to get a diverse, we want to get different opinions. We don’t want everyone to just go well, because Joe has prepared we need to do what Joe says we need to get different opinions. And we need to ask for them. Who has a contrary opinion throughout the meeting number two, sorry, the next one. Number six is it’s okay to disagree. But eventually we need to commit. So I mentioned disagree and commit, we need to get commitment around the decision. And we don’t need to have people who are, you know, agreeing to disagree. That’s a it’s an awful, awful status in a leadership team. And then finally, we got to close the meeting by having clarity and specificity on the decision. And as Kevin so rightly said, in the zoom world, write it on the screen, write it on the whiteboard, if you’re in a meeting room, say this is the decision that we land on, and we all agreed. And that’s how you close out that weekly, collective intelligence. What a lovely head
Kevin Lawrence 43:28
it is. And one more thought I had there is that sometimes one of the decisions is what you’re going to talk about next time. Right, the subjects of who is going to present what for debate the following week. Yeah, great conversation. So thanks for listening. This has been the growth whispers podcast with my good friend Brad Giles, who you can reach at evolution partners.com.au and myself, Kevin Lawrence, at Lawrence and co.com. We hope you have an awesome week and dial in those weekly meetings to leverage the biggest brains in your group and make some good things come out of it. All right. Have a good one. All the best.
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