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Co-Creating How You Will Be Together

Last week in Setting Expectations for Regular Meetings with Family, we ended up running out of racetrack just as I was getting to a key idea I wanted to share.

So because I enjoy having complete editorial licence over all my writing, I decided to kick this forward a week and address it here now, which will actually allow me to properly share it here in more detail than I would have as part of last week’s missive.

So much of what I write about here is borrowed, recycled, repurposed or re-shared from the work of other respected colleagues who work in this space, and I am eternally grateful for everyone else who openly shares their work with others in various ways.

It is therefore actually pretty rare for me to be able to write about something that I came up with completely on my own, which I will be doing here now.

“Let’s Have a Meeting # 0”

The origin of this idea goes back several years when I was working with a family client where I’d been brought in to coach the rising generation (G4) as they were preparing for various roles in the family enterprise.

After a year or so of helping them understand how to relate with and rely on each other, they were getting into the swing of things and had already worked together on organizing a couple of weekend family retreats.

Eventually, when it became clear to them and their parents that they were now ready to create a true “family council”, I congratulated them on getting to this point, and then suggested a first step.

“Let’s start with a Meeting # 0” I said. (Meeting Number Zero)

After digesting their somewhat quizzical looks for a moment, I continued.

“Let’s have a meeting with everyone who’s going to be involved in the family council, but we won’t jump right in and have our first family council meeting, we’ll make sure to lay a good foundation, and spend the time necessary to co-create what we want those meetings to look like and feel like”.


A Meeting About the Meetings

It would have been tempting to throw together an agenda for “Meeting # 1” and jump right it, but I recognized that because they were paying me for my guidance, it behooved me to do the hard work of slowing them down a bit.

I’ve since come to realize the importance of this, as I have deployed this idea on a number of occasions, pretty much whenever I’m involved with a group who are embarking on what is to become a series of regular meetings together.

A this point the idea of who will be involved has typically been agreed to, and the general reasoning behind the need for the meetings is also pretty clear.

What remains to be done is to set the stage for two key questions:

  • What are we going to DO?
  • How are we going to BE?

What Are We Going to Do Together?

This is the simpler of the two questions, as it falls under the heading of things we typically think about when we are talking about getting together.

The agenda of topics to be discussed is important, although before you actually begin, it’s hard to get into anything more than generalities.

In fact, if you already knew all these details, you wouldn’t necessarily even need to have a meeting, except perhaps to disseminate information.

As noted in Live from the Forum: Successful Transitions, when you are planning a “forum”, that entails plenty of open discussion, which theoretically can then go into a variety of unplanned directions (and that’s a good thing!)

How Are We Going to Be Together?

By far the trickier question you want to address in Meeting # 0 is how you’re going to be together.

See The Being/Doing Connection.

It’s something that will evolve, of course, but it’s worth spending some time upfront on expectations and desires here.

I hinted at a big part of this just above, when I noted that a “forum” or open discussion is desired.

In fact, the Meeting # 0 idea doesn’t usually apply in other circumstances where a “meeting” is essentially just an occasion to deal with the “same old, same old”.

We’re talking about an exchange of ideas with the goal of co-creating a future together, and that merits more time spent on building a clear, strong foundation.