Tips

Available

Good Group Tips

In principle, issues that require decisions often come to us with little or no warning, when we are in the middle of something else. To be available is to be willing and able to instantly change priorities. To be available is to have a little excess capacity, a little down time in the schedule, a little gas in the tank. It is to be well-fed, well-rested, clear thinking, ready for anything.

Groups, managers, parents, and others who are always too busy and unavailable for unanticipated “stuff that comes up” are always on defense, always in crisis, often in emotional pain.

Practical Tip: When you make plans such as a work plan, a job description, a budget, or even just planning your day, leave room available for things you can’t anticipate. Resist the temptation to pack plans too full. Governments grow, in part, because when legislators see what looks like latent capacity — people sitting around — they rush to fill the void with additional responsibilities. Then when “stuff comes up” there is inadequate capacity so new spending is needed to build more capacity. Sometimes sitting around and being available is exactly what we want; think firefighters.

Plan to be available for things unplanned. Don’t hold to your plans no matter what. Be available to the people and things that are truly most important.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Brake in advance

Good Group Tips

In principle, when you have to stop or change course by a certain time or place, it helps to prepare in advance. The more momentum something has, the longer the stopping distance; the more preparation required.

In physics, momentum is mass times velocity. In groups, momentum is number of people times level of energy, such as enthusiasm or anger. A large group of fired-up people is simply unable to stop or change course quickly. And as any driver knows, if we try to stop or change course too quickly we can lose control with disastrous results.

Practical Tip: If you are the group facilitator or leader, give your group advance notice when approaching the end of a discussion or project, or when a policy change might be coming. Build in advance the expectation for stopping or changing at a certain time or place. Meeting agendas with times and project plans with dates serve this function well.

Of course braking in advance requires knowing in advance what’s coming. Establish and heed early warning signs. Groups appreciate regular updates on what lies ahead. Groups hate to make decisions without advance warning.

Braking in advance also requires good brakes, the most critical part of any moving object. The most important thing about learning how to ski fast is learning how to brake fast. In groups, good brakes are all about attitude; the ability of group members to be open-minded and flexible in light of new information or circumstances.

If you are part of a large group with much energy, throw your weight in the direction you would like to see things go yet calibrate your expectations to the group’s momentum.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Things undone

Good Group Tips

In principle, things are always undone; housecleaning, unpaid bills, pending repairs and amends. Most of us are uncomfortable when things are left untied yet group decision making is always untidy. Meetings never end having achieved everything that every participant wanted to get done.

In some cases, things undone can be so overwhelming, confusing and frustrating that it leads to destructive behavior or insanity.

Practical Tip: Rather than breed insanity, change your expectations. Don’t expect everything to be all wrapped up by the end of the meeting, the end of the day, or the end of the term. Don’t go into a meeting expecting resolution of every issue. Expect that things will be left undone and that’s okay.

If things undone are important, write them on a list or a plan. Attaching names and dates to things undone increase chances of achievement. It can bring peace to know that even though something is undone, there is a plan for doing it.

Do not criticize yourself for things undone if the reason is because you were doing more important things. Accept that life is tangle of untied strings; always will be. I have a friend who says with peaceful acceptance, “There will be dirty dishes in the sink and laundry on the floor on the day that I die.”

Did you do the important things? Did you move even a small amount in the right direction, regardless of what’s left lying around in a mess? Celebrate what you or your group gets done and be at peace with leaving things undone.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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