Seeds for Sowing in the Meeting Bed -- Great Yield!

There are a lot of ways to use this deck, Group Work, A Pattern Language for Bringing Life to Meetings and other Gatherings. The way I used it this week was in thinking about an upcoming meeting that my client had requested I facilitate. I was very pleased with both the depth of conversation we were able to have and the intention that we were able to set for the meeting.

We were in a car traveling for about 90 minutes at 65 mph. The client and two people from their organization were present. My client had some anxiety about the upcoming meeting stemming from concern for the groups lack of cohesion, and divergent points of view on the right direction moving forward. What they had was an opportunity and deadline.

There was no time to have a planning meeting outside of this trip, so we had to plan on the road. First I spent time listening to the context of the meeting, and making sure I understood the why, who and what parts of the story. Then, I took out this deck, fanned the cards and asked each person in the car to take one and I took one. While I reviewed the cards the conversation continued and I could already recognize the points where the story about this meeting intersected with the patterns on the cards. With this hand, if you will,  we commenced the what if part of the story. I read each card and we had a conversation about them all.

Good Faith Assumptions. Assuming others’ good intent increases trust and effectiveness. Instead of interpreting “negative” actions as attempts at manipulation, insult, or power-play, we choose to believe people are doing the best they can and look for underlying values or needs in common. Searching for a better story, we find or create one. Related:  Appreciation  ~  Common Ground  ~  Not About You  ~  Witness with Compassion  ~  Tend Relationships  ~  Setting Intention  ~  Taking Responsibility

Power of Constraints. Embrace limitations and boundaries as a source of inspiration. Appreciating the obstacles helps you see more fully how to overcome or adapt to them. Accepting constraints, they can morph into useful forms that open up new possibilities, spurring creativity. Related:  All Grist for the Mill  ~  Generate Possibilities  ~  Improvise  ~  Inquiry  ~  Letting Go  ~  Taking Responsibility  ~  Viewpoint Shift

Ritual. Ceremony is primal; it grounds, connects, and deeply nourishes group spirit. Use it to mark opening, transition, cycles, milestones, or closing. Ritual is also the formal or habitual repetition of intentional practices that have proven their value. Related:  Breaking Bread Together  ~  Gaia  ~  Celebrate  ~  Closing  ~  Mode Choice  ~  Opening and Welcome  ~  Spirit

Common Ground. Consciously decide to give more attention to where we agree than where we don’t. By tuning in to what we share, we find the way to make progress together. Related: Breaking Bread Together ~ Commitment ~ Embrace Dissonance and Difference ~ Good Faith Assumptions ~ Moving Toward Alignment ~ Not About You ~ Unity and Diversity

After we talked about the cards, I proposed the following course of action. In the opening of the meeting, we draw attention to Common Ground and Good Faith Assumptions of the group. Then, in order to focus and energize the group, we highlight Constraints of time and influence on the groups work.

The Ritual card spoke to the dynamic of in the context of the story that was very useful in articulating a purpose of the groups work.

All in all, this was very productive time spent preparing. All that was left to do was outline an agenda. The meeting was a great success as well.