How We Meet Reveals Who We Are

Written by Mark McElroy

Culture comes from interaction, not vision statements.

At work, a set of “meeting moves” is changing how we meet:

  • Appointing moderators and scribes. One person steers; the other notes what we did and what agreements we made.
  • Starting meetings with a check-in question. These can be simple (“What’s on your mind?”) or fun (“What are you drinking?”) or profound (“Why does this project matter to you?”). Everyone listens; everyone answers.
  • Limiting status updates to one minute each. We expect most folks to pull status updates from the tools we use to “work out loud” — like Asana and Microsoft Teams.
  • Building an “agenda on the fly.” No compiling or circulating agendas in advance. Anyone can raise a need and have it addressed on the spot.
  • Closing with check-out questions. A favorite: “What did you notice about this meeting?” We notice things to celebrate … and things to change.

These meeting moves are not about efficiency; they’re tools for shaping culture.

  • Appointing moderators and scribes says, “What we do and how we do it matters.”
  • Check-in questions say, “Everyone can speak.”
  • Eliminating status updates says, “We use shared tools and trust adults to keep up.”
  • Building an agenda on the fly says, “Anyone can tell us what’s needed.”
  • Check-out questions say, “We notice. We learn. We improve.”

Set out to change culture, and you get insipid vision statements everyone will forget. Change the way people interact and culture takes care of itself.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

About the author

Mark McElroy

I'm a writer and professional facilitator. I'm the author of a dozen or so non-fiction books and hundreds of corporate video scripts. As a professional facilitator, I coach individuals, committees, and teams to change how they meet, make decisions, and plan, so they can get out of their own way and do work that really matters. I use this site to write about writing, adaptive strategy, travel, and spirituality ... and to "learn out loud" by sharing works (and what doesn't).