Connected Principals Posts

I had a chance to watch this Ted Talk from forward-thinking educator Ada McKim titled, “Why our students need to learn more about the world“. In it, McKim makes the contention that we spend a lot of time talking about our past, but conversations about our present need to be more of a reality in … [Read more…]

Read More Accountability and Action Toward a Shared Vision





I recently read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. This book is a must read for any leader who wants to improve the quality of meetings in his or her organization. Every team could benefit from the insights shared in this leadership fable. 



The problem with meetings is that they are often boring, and they don’t usually get the desired results. There are a couple of reasons this happens. I’d like to share some of what I learned from Lencioni’s book and encourage you to read it if you would like to have killer meetings instead of death by meetings.



Two Problems With Meetings

Major Problem #1 is Lack of Conflict. But not the bad kind of conflict. NOT personal conflict. It’s the kind we have in the plot of a movie or novel. There is a problem to be solved. It drives the meeting forward in a narrative fashion. There is a story. There will be conflict between the ‘characters’ in the meeting, but we want it to be constructive conflict around important issues directly related to the problem. Conflict will result in better decisions. There will be ideological differences. Leaders have to help to create some of the urgency needed for a plot to be interesting. If meetings lack conflict, they are boring. And they basically result in people ‘hanging out’ together instead of solving problems together. Lencioni suggests three ideas leaders can use to help get meaningful dialogue started.

Hook Example“We have a real problem with apathy. 50% of our students failed at least one class last year. We are all dealing with bored, disengaged students. We don’t want to see students coast through school and pay the price later. We aim for excellence here, and we aren’t getting excellence out of all our students.”

Mining for Conflict – Confront issues that need to be addressed. Don’t avoid them.

Real-time Permission – Let others know the conflict is good. “I’m glad we are having this discussion, even though it may be a little uncomfortable and force us to rethink our work.”

Major Problem #2 is Lack of Contextual Structure. When different types/purposes for the meeting are all lumped together in “meeting stew” with no distinction, the meeting goes all over the place. People talk to fill up the time but not toward a goal or purpose. The dialogue isn’t leading to a decision.

Lencioni presents several types of meetings, but I found two of these to be particularly useful in our school setting.



Type #1 Tactical Meetings – Issues of immediate concern. Most routine meetings should be tactical. They are very structured and includes the following elements:

Lightning Round – A quick, around-the-table reporting session in which everyone indicates two or three priorities for the week. It should take each team member no more than one minute to quickly describe what is on their respective plates. It sets the tone for the meeting.

Progress Review – Reporting of critical information or metrics. What are the key areas of progress either ongoing or established at the previous meeting? Limit metrics to just 2 or 3. Limit discussion of underlying issues here.

Real-time agenda – Once the lightning round and progress review are complete, the agenda is set by what everyone is working on and how the group is performing against its goals, not based on the leader’s best guess 48 hours before the meeting. There must be disciplined spontaneity here. What are the next steps? “Should we develop a more effective question for the common assessment?” “What are we going to do this week about the increasing Ds and Fs in our classes?” Stay focused on tactical issues that must be addressed to ensure short-term objectives are not jeopardized. Any obstacles to tactical issues must be removed.

Possible Obstacles: 1. Temptation to set an agenda. 2. Spending too much time on the lightning round. 3. Discussion about long-term strategic issues. Team member will raise strategic issues that will take the focus off the short-term topics (aka – doing real work together). There is a different meeting for the strategic issues. Any strategic issues brought up are added to the list of topics for the next type of meeting.
Type #2 The Monthly Strategic – The most important and most fun type of meeting. The team debates, analyzes, and decides critical issues that will affect the school/team in fundamental ways. The hardest thing will be having enough time. Issues will have to be limited to only the most important. In this type of meeting, members need to know in advance what will be discussed. Members must come prepared. Decisions must be made with good information, data, research, etc. Decisions are not made on anecdotal information alone. This meeting decides the team’s larger strategic plan and where the team is headed next. Again, fear of conflict can cause these meetings to be ineffective.

Closing

Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time. They can actually save time, because our results are better when our meetings are better. We can be proactive. Alignment saves time because we pull together instead of pulling in a multitude of directions.

A few other notes…

The meeting should always focus on the people in the room. What are we (these people) going to do about the problem? If there is a need to partner with others in addressing the problem, invite them to the next meeting.

Meetings generate energy when…

1. Teams brag about wins

2. Relationships are strengthened

3. The path forward is clear

4. Accountability focuses on the people around the table



Question: What other ideas would you share to have killer meetings? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More How To Have Killer Meetings That Get Results





I recently read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. This book is a must read for any leader who wants to improve the quality of meetings in his or her organization. Every team could benefit from the insights shared in this leadership fable. 



The problem with meetings is that they are often boring, and they don’t usually get the desired results. There are a couple of reasons this happens. I’d like to share some of what I learned from Lencioni’s book and encourage you to read it if you would like to have killer meetings instead of death by meetings.



Two Problems With Meetings

Major Problem #1 is Lack of Conflict. But not the bad kind of conflict. NOT personal conflict. It’s the kind we have in the plot of a movie or novel. There is a problem to be solved. It drives the meeting forward in a narrative fashion. There is a story. There will be conflict between the ‘characters’ in the meeting, but we want it to be constructive conflict around important issues directly related to the problem. Conflict will result in better decisions. There will be ideological differences. Leaders have to help to create some of the urgency needed for a plot to be interesting. If meetings lack conflict, they are boring. And they basically result in people ‘hanging out’ together instead of solving problems together. Lencioni suggests three ideas leaders can use to help get meaningful dialogue started.

Hook Example“We have a real problem with apathy. 50% of our students failed at least one class last year. We are all dealing with bored, disengaged students. We don’t want to see students coast through school and pay the price later. We aim for excellence here, and we aren’t getting excellence out of all our students.”

Mining for Conflict – Confront issues that need to be addressed. Don’t avoid them.

Real-time Permission – Let others know the conflict is good. “I’m glad we are having this discussion, even though it may be a little uncomfortable and force us to rethink our work.”

Major Problem #2 is Lack of Contextual Structure. When different types/purposes for the meeting are all lumped together in “meeting stew” with no distinction, the meeting goes all over the place. People talk to fill up the time but not toward a goal or purpose. The dialogue isn’t leading to a decision.

Lencioni presents several types of meetings, but I found two of these to be particularly useful in our school setting.



Type #1 Tactical Meetings – Issues of immediate concern. Most routine meetings should be tactical. They are very structured and includes the following elements:

Lightning Round – A quick, around-the-table reporting session in which everyone indicates two or three priorities for the week. It should take each team member no more than one minute to quickly describe what is on their respective plates. It sets the tone for the meeting.

Progress Review – Reporting of critical information or metrics. What are the key areas of progress either ongoing or established at the previous meeting? Limit metrics to just 2 or 3. Limit discussion of underlying issues here.

Real-time agenda – Once the lightning round and progress review are complete, the agenda is set by what everyone is working on and how the group is performing against its goals, not based on the leader’s best guess 48 hours before the meeting. There must be disciplined spontaneity here. What are the next steps? “Should we develop a more effective question for the common assessment?” “What are we going to do this week about the increasing Ds and Fs in our classes?” Stay focused on tactical issues that must be addressed to ensure short-term objectives are not jeopardized. Any obstacles to tactical issues must be removed.

Possible Obstacles: 1. Temptation to set an agenda. 2. Spending too much time on the lightning round. 3. Discussion about long-term strategic issues. Team member will raise strategic issues that will take the focus off the short-term topics (aka – doing real work together). There is a different meeting for the strategic issues. Any strategic issues brought up are added to the list of topics for the next type of meeting.
Type #2 The Monthly Strategic – The most important and most fun type of meeting. The team debates, analyzes, and decides critical issues that will affect the school/team in fundamental ways. The hardest thing will be having enough time. Issues will have to be limited to only the most important. In this type of meeting, members need to know in advance what will be discussed. Members must come prepared. Decisions must be made with good information, data, research, etc. Decisions are not made on anecdotal information alone. This meeting decides the team’s larger strategic plan and where the team is headed next. Again, fear of conflict can cause these meetings to be ineffective.

Closing

Meetings don’t have to be a waste of time. They can actually save time, because our results are better when our meetings are better. We can be proactive. Alignment saves time because we pull together instead of pulling in a multitude of directions.

A few other notes…

The meeting should always focus on the people in the room. What are we (these people) going to do about the problem? If there is a need to partner with others in addressing the problem, invite them to the next meeting.

Meetings generate energy when…

1. Teams brag about wins

2. Relationships are strengthened

3. The path forward is clear

4. Accountability focuses on the people around the table



Question: What other ideas would you share to have killer meetings? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More How To Have Killer Meetings That Get Results

This is a question I ask administrators all of the time: Have you learned anything new in the past three months? Of course, everyone nods their head in enthusiastic agreement. I then follow up with this question: Could your staff tell me what new learning you have done in the past three months? The response … [Read more…]

Read More Sharing the Ups and Downs of Learning

This is a question I ask administrators all of the time: Have you learned anything new in the past three months? Of course, everyone nods their head in enthusiastic agreement. I then follow up with this question: Could your staff tell me what new learning you have done in the past three months? The response … [Read more…]

Read More Sharing the Ups and Downs of Learning

Jethro Jones is principal of Tanana Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is also the host of Transformative Principal Podcast. As NASSP’s Principal 2017 National Digital Principal of the Year, he was honored this month at the National Principal Conference in Philadelphia. I’ve known Jethro for years from connecting online and have had the privilege […]

Read More PMP:074 Growing Your Digital Leadership with Jethro Jones

Schools are about more than learning; they are about experience(s).  They help shape us in our present and future and those experiences stick with us long past our time as students.  Unfortunately, this can either shape us in a positive or negative manner. I asked this question of educators recently: In your time as a … [Read more…]

Read More 5 Questions to Ask Your Students To Start the School Year

Schools are about more than learning; they are about experience(s).  They help shape us in our present and future and those experiences stick with us long past our time as students.  Unfortunately, this can be either shape us in a positive or negative manner. I asked this question of educators recently: In your time as … [Read more…]

Read More 5 Questions to Ask Your Students To Start the School Year

When I asked my friends to choose a question to help me answer, the pairings of who answered what was left up to them. The greatness that is these two admins combining below is pretty incredible. Add in that they are both named Jessica, and you too wil…

Read More Q7: How does the leader model RISK TAKING? #askanadmin

When I first started teaching, I was blessed to have a grade level partner who shared everything with me.  As an educator, I was extremely lucky to work beside someone who had a lot of experience in education and was willing to share their knowledge and wisdom with a brand new teacher. I was also lucky to … [Read more…]

Read More The Education “Bat Signal”

When I first started teaching, I was blessed to have a grade level partner who shared everything with me.  As an educator, I was extremely lucky to work beside someone…

Read More The Education “Bat Signal”

When I first started teaching, I was blessed to have a grade level partner who shared everything with me.  As an educator, I was extremely lucky to work beside someone who had a lot of experience in education and was willing to share their knowledge and wisdom with a brand new teacher. I was also lucky to … [Read more…]

Read More The Education “Bat Signal”

Two of the nicest, most inspiring principals ever contributed to today’s question. I am honored to call them friend, and ALWAYS able to call on them for great ideas, reassurance, and innovative ideas! Thank you Sanee Bell and Ben Gilpin for an answer to today’s tough question…How do I become the instructional leader? You’ve probably […]

The post Q6: How do I become the instructional leader? #askanadmin appeared first on Love, Learn, Lead.

Read More Q6: How do I become the instructional leader? #askanadmin

Recently I was speaking to school leaders at Okaloosa County Schools’ Summer Leadership Academy in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. I decided to combine my travels there with an opportunity for my family to stay at the beach. My wife and I loaded up all four kids in a Dodge Caravan, and we hit the road. […]

Read More PMP:073 Three Takeaways for Your Leadership Journey