HOW TO PLAN AND CONDUCT A MEETING USING THE COMPASS

Do you want more efficient and meaningful working meetings? Here’s a way of planning and conducting meetings using the innovation model the Design to Improve Life Compass.

The Compass is a four-phase innovation model with a user-centred and problem-solving approach. It’s a brilliant tool for planning and conducting meetings – be it a staff appraisal meeting, a project meeting with various stakeholders or a bigger meeting with a company department or even a conference.

This method is especially suited for meetings where you want the participants to contribute to solving problems or developing ideas.

I’ll take you on a short guided tour of how to use the Compass for planning and conducting a meeting. I will start by the planning. The Compass looks like this:

THE COMPASS
In the middle, you see the user. The user is the person who is going to benefit from your brilliant meeting planning.

Around the user you see the four phases: Prepare, Perceive, Prototype and Produce. Each of these phases has a specific purpose and some according actions. When using the Compass as a planning tool, these actions can be simplified and captured in four foci and four main questions.

In the Prepare phase, your overall focus is to identify the challenge. Why did you call the meeting? What is the subject and why is it important? What is the problem or the challenge? ‘Why?’ is the main question.

In the Perceive phase, your overall focus is to understand the user and the context in which the meeting is taking place. Who should you invite? Who should benefit from the meeting? And what is their perception of the situation? ‘Who’ is the main question.

In the Prototype phase, your overall focus is to plan the actual meeting and draft the agenda. What kind of meeting will be beneficial to reach your goal and get the impact that you aim for? What exactly will you say and do – and what kind of role do you want the participants to take? ‘What’ is the main question.

In the Produce phase, your overall focus is communication. How do you call the meeting? How much should the participants know in advance? If you want them to prepare something for the meeting – how do you tell them? ‘How’ is the main question.

Following this structure allows you to focus on gathering information and getting an overview – Prepare and Perceive phases – before you start to plan – Prototype phase – and take actions to inform about the meeting and run it – the Produce phase. It can be very helpful to look at the subject of the meeting as a challenge you want to solve. Then the meeting is part of the process towards a solution. At most meetings, you have several subjects on the agenda – then consider each subject a challenge and follow the Compass Phases for each subject in your planning.

Running the meeting can follow the exact same phases. Start by presenting why this meeting or subject is important – what is the problem? Follow up with a description of the “users” and the situations in which the problem occurs. Then go to developing ideas – what should the ideal solution be? And how can the participants contribute to solving the problem? This is the interesting part, where you will get the participants visions, which will be very useful. The last phase is making an action plan and committing people to involve in the follow-up and implementation.

This way of planning and conducting meetings focuses on how to ensure both efficient meetings and involvement of the participants. Because we all know the kind of meetings, where we don’t know why we came and nothing really happens afterwards. So stop wasting time – let’s have more efficient meetings – and more fun!

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