Galen Low is joined by John Furneaux, CEO and co-founder of Hive to discuss John’s recent article on how to keep meetings productive, collaborative, and clear so that you move the ball forward on your project every time.
- John Furneaux is the Co-founder and CEO of Hive. A collaboration oriented company that developed an AI based project management tool used by brands like Uber, Starbucks, WeWork, IBM, and more. [0:23]
- He holds a Master’s in Mathematics and Law from the University of Cambridge. He can fly a plane. He cycles through East village religiously, and he taught himself to code specifically so that he could build his product. [0:35]
- Some say he’s a man of sheer will, others say he’s disruptive, but more than that he is a self-professed teamwork nerd and is extremely passionate about collaboration culture and effective meeting management. [0:45]
- They’re going to be talking about his recent article on The Digital Project Manager titled, How Bad Meetings Can Kill A Good Project and just generally dive into how we can make meetings less of a time-suck and more of a collaborative propulsion engine for our projects. [0:56]
- John is obsessed with human psychology and more specifically how humans work together. He found law very interesting because it helps us resolve disputes between people. He is also obsessed with how tools can help a team accomplish more together at the most basic. [1:54]
- John watched The Queen’s Gambit and he is interested in Chess.
- At Hive, they aspire not to be the person on center stage. They aspire to be the men and women in black outfits, making sure that everything is ready on stage so that the actors can shine. [8:32]
- Hive will never draw you a beautiful graphic, that’s your job. Hive can make sure that it seamlessly gets to your client, that the approval of that is super easy, that you never need to tell your manager that you did it because they’ve got that covered for you. [9:33]
If we do our jobs properly, you spend as much of your day as possible doing what you love and doing what you’re super talented at.John Furneaux
- The challenge that the organization is dealing today is culture. [11:04]
- Two examples of rituals that are important to our culture. First one, John was taught by a man called David Politis. He runs a wonderful company called BetterCloud. They call them User Manuals. [12:46]
- The second one that they personally do at Hive is they have a thing called Happy Hive on a Friday. The whole company joins on Zoom. [13:50]
- One of Hive’s early investors is Michael Scott Owen from Rembrandt Venture Partners. [15:07]
You should never think to yourself, we’re all trying to be the same or what’s the right way to do for everybody. You recognize the fact that humans as machines and people why they’re different from each other and you must keep that front of mind to be successful.JOHN FURNEAUX
- John has been blind to how important the meeting is in terms of successful project management. The reason why it became so blindingly clear is that a bad Zoom is somehow even worse than it is in person. [18:13]
- Pillars of a good meeting: First is attendees. Second is purpose and the third one is did something about the world change. [22:13]
- Recurring meetings are always the worst. Because these things are sort of immortal. They just roll around. [23:40]
The purpose of the meeting is to unblock items in the project. You’ve got to find the blocked things and talk about how to unblock them.JOHN FURNEAUX
- If a meeting should be seen as a mini project, then we need to plan, do and review. [26:08]
- For pre-meeting, two key things. You can mess up everything else, but if you get the agenda and the attendee list right, you’re going to be doing better than 75% of people who are running that meeting. [26:31]
- To make sure that everybody in the meeting has the opportunity to contribute. A technique that John particularly recommends is to call folks out by name. [29:12]
- Easy agenda, easy attendee list, easy to capture the meeting, easy everyone’s input, easy to show them afterwards and easy to make sure that everyone’s done what they said they would do and that’s the three pillars that Hive are trying to provide. [30:30]
Groups tend to perform more slowly than individuals on their own.JOHN FURNEAUX
- It’s important that pre-work is done prior to the meeting, so that when we are forcing ourselves to move at a pace of the whole group we’re doing so, because we need to. [34:09]
- In John’s experience, the really successful thing is the gentle social pressure of knowing what he’s done is going to be put on the table in front of everybody. [34:41]
- John worked at Capgemini, a consulting firm in the UK where they put him through learning how to run a design and run a great meeting. One of the things that the folks at Capgemini are probably even best at is running great sort of implementation programs and bringing facts together for effective meetings. [44:25]
- In terms of collaboration, John believes that if you look at US productivity studies from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they actually have made very few games since about 1953 post-war. And John believed one of the reasons for that is actually collaboration causing too much interruption. [48:32]
John Furneaux leads Hive as CEO and co-founder, and received his MA in Mathematics and Law from the University of Cambridge and is a keen pilot and cyclist. Starting his career as a strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies, he saw the serious challenges teams faced while trying to work together effectively. It was the catalyst for a career-long specialism in the tools teams use to achieve their goals productively. After leading the national implementation of Sharepoint for the UK’s Department of Education, John left the consulting world to join Huddle, a small UK collaboration platform, as employee 12.
Starting on the frontline, John rose to lead Global Customer Success, building a large team of specialists across the USA and UK as Huddle grew through Series D to become Europe’s largest collaboration platform. Taking advantage of a huge adjacent opportunity in the team collaboration space, John taught himself to code and built the first version of Hive, a collaboration hub and project management tool, in 2015. Hive has now grown to a company of over 50 employees in the US and several more overseas, and boasts a client list that includes Starbucks, Google, EA and Toyota.
A well-run meeting will be more effective, irrespective of whether your culture is already good or bad.JOHN FURNEAUX
Resources from this episode:
- Join DPM Membership
- Check out Hive
- Check out Huddle
- Connect with John on LinkedIn
- Follow John on Twitter
- Follow Huddle on Twitter
Related articles and podcasts:
- About the podcast
- Article showing bad meetings can kill a good project: a survivor’s guide
- Article explaining the how to run project kickoff meetings: the ultimate guide
- Video on tips for new project managers to be successful from day one
- Podcast about managing stakeholder dynamics: why meeting strategy matters
We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.
Read the Transcript:
Thanks for tuning in, my name is Galen Low with The Digital Project Manager. We are a community of digital professionals on a mission to help each other get skilled, get confident and get connected so that we can deliver projects better. If you want to hear more about that, head over to thedigitalprojectmanager.com.
Hey everyone. Thanks for hanging out with us on the DPM podcast. My guest today is the Co-founder and CEO of Hive. A collaboration-oriented company that developed an AI based project management tool used by brands like Uber, Starbucks, WeWork, IBM and more. He holds a Master’s in Mathematics and Law from the University of Cambridge. He can fly a plane. He cycles through East village religiously, and he taught himself to code specifically so that he could build his product. Some say he’s a man of sheer will, others say he’s a disruptive, but more than that he is a self-professed teamwork nerd and is extremely passionate about collaboration culture and effective meeting management.
Today, we’re going to be talking about his recent article on The Digital Project Manager titled, How Bad Meetings Can Kill A Good Project and just generally dive into how we can make meetings less of a time-suck and more of a collaborative propulsion engine for our projects.
So folks, please welcome Mr. John Furneaux. Hey, John.
Hey, how you doing Galen? And, uh, thank you very much for your kind words.
I did my research on you and leading up to this podcast and I was very impressed. I was very impressed. Really looking forward to this conversation for sure. I thought maybe we could start just by getting to know you a little bit.
Um, one thing that really caught my attention about you is that your path kind of took you from mathematics and law to somewhere along the way, switching gears and teaching yourself code and starting a software company and it seems like there’s a sharp left turn in there somewhere. And I just wondered what inspired you to make it your mission to help folks collaborate and deliver projects better instead of, you know, a more traditional math or law path?
Yeah, for sure. I think, um, yeah, that’s actually a fair point. I think it’s the, I’m obsessed with human psychology and uh, more specifically how humans work together. I think it’s an age, age, old question, um, that sort of will never be solved. We can only get better and better at it. And for me personally, that took me from, I found law very interesting because law helps us resolve disputes between people, right? It’s there’s always, it’s always two parties that aren’t super interesting and then it’s consulting I realized quickly that I was obsessed with, um, how tools can help a team accomplish more together at the most basic. If you think about those games you did at summer camp or something while you’re trying to, you know, build a bridge with paper and sticks like, I, I always found that interesting and then through now to helping organizations of a hundred thousand people, you know, build that paper bridge with sticks together, better across the large organization.
I love that. Yeah. Paper, bridges, and sticks at scale, but I love that it is one of those things that, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re never going to crack the nut on and we can always get better at, and I think that’s the power of, of, of humans in general, just being able to collaborate and get something done that we couldn’t get done on our own.
So I think that’s a, that’s a great mission and I’m seeing the tie-ins now, I’m seeing the tie-ins. Um, I mean, speaking of human collaboration, uh, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and the state of the world is perhaps a bit suboptimal right now, but just wondering, is there anything in your life personal or professional, that’s just making things a bit more awesome, a bit of silver lining?
There is a, continuing the nerd theme. I’m one of the people who watched the, uh, The Queen’s Gambit and, uh, hydro me interested in Chess. Hadn’t played since I was a little kid. I have to say it’s um, it’s wonderful. I think it gives me, it gives me a relaxation and space away from the day and I find, something I found very interesting in my own journey. I think it’s very good to keep your own mind healthy, as that taking on different hobbies or challenges encourages your brain to think in different ways. So when I’m flying, you know, it makes you very, very sort of risk of a safety conscious, all those good things. And for me, the newest thing I’m teaching myself is how the game of chess can teach us to be a step ahead, you know, especially in an environment which is, you know, gently adversarial, right? You are competing against somebody else and so it’s really fun to think about how some of the horrendous blenders I can make on the chess board can help me avoid the, avoid the same stuff in real life. That’s brought me great joy in the last couple of months.
And actually for our listeners, those are two great project manager hobbies, by the way. So flying a plane in terms of risk management, and chess in terms of looking ahead, gentle adversarial, uh, sort of relationships. And are you playing, are you playing against a human opponents or AI or both?
Human opponents because as a, as the before it, so it’s the people’s side I find interesting, right? I’m not trying to, um, I’m not trying to be world’s greatest chess player. I find it fascinating too to again, generally compete with folks and see what people are good at spotting, where the holes are in the way we think, how strategies work better with maybe a weaker player versus a stronger player. Super, super interesting.
I love that. That’s so cool. Very cool. All right. I could probably talk at you about chess all day because I find it fascinating even though I am not a great player myself. Um, but maybe we can talk a little bit about this company that you’ve built. This organization, um, maybe tell us a bit about Hive and the product that you create. What is Hive exactly?
Yeah, for sure. To make it easiest people to, to get that get into right zone straight away, think of project management, right? Think, uh, it’s been a, catastrophe around for a good period of time. That is certainly the family that we have sprung from, right? So I think the ability to know what your colleagues are working on, what you need to work on, what the overall shape of your, of your project plan is and same for day to day.
We, we believe that we’re part of a new generation of which there’s two or three platforms available today, where what used to be a construction managers huge project plan because they’re building an oil tanker and they need that stuff, but the rest of us mere mortals do not. We believe that the world has changed such that tools can help you everyday.
Not just because you’re working on what might be perceived as a complex project. Um, if you think about some of the techniques that some of your audience will be very familiar with around, you know, PMO techniques or Agile, those kinds of things. We’re seeing the explosion of that in normal day to day. A very specific example would be, it took a darn long time that many marketing teams now copy that same Agile methodology, right? I have a, and if you think about it, it’s a discipline. It suits it very well. I’ve always got too many things I could do. I’ve always got a list of ideas. Is it smarter to plan out 12 months of our marketing strategy? Or is there a pretty good argument that the world changes so fast around us? There were better off saying here’s the best option right now and we’re going to take a look fresh again, and I’ll backlog in four weeks time and pick our favorite. Rinse and repeat and before you know it, you’re, you’re very close to attack Agile approach.
I love that. I’ve talked to so many marketing teams that are like, kind of figuring out Agile right now, but it’s exactly, as you say, it’s staying up, uh, staying up to speed on what the market is doing and iterating on those ideas and having that backlog, but having to prioritize it so that you’re not just trying to do all the ideas at once and sort of executing on a year long plan or a three-year plan or something, you know, to that.
I mean, I, we could not be in a better time now to observe the fact that the three-year marketing plans of 2020, what the right way to go at it. Do you know what I mean? And those organizations who were able to ask them, you seen it around us, right? We’ve seen some brands move very quickly, right? Adjust market positioning, go for market opportunities. Why? Because they had it culturally in their DNA that they could look a fresh each time and not be stuck to, you know, three year commit.
Absolutely. Yeah, not even just Agile, but like agility, just as new. I love that. Um, I mean, maybe we could talk a little bit about how Hive helps some of your customers deliver these projects and be nimble and help them sort of organize their ideas and collaborate?
Yeah, a hundred percent. So, especially with the changing world, right? The world has gone, um, asynchronous or synchronous, but certainly remote for it for lots of organizations. I always say of Hive or a platform like Hive. We aspire to be not the person on center stage. We aspire to be the men and women in black outfits, making sure that everything’s ready on stage so that the actors can shine, right? If we do our job properly, someone shouldn’t notice Hive in that day if you know what I mean. Our job is to give you the right information at the right time, so that you can focus on the stuff that you, that you care about that you’re good at. So let me be more specific about that. If you ask many designers and, um, larger agencies, they will say my goodness so much of my time is spent in back and forth of the approvals, or back and forth with the brief, or back and forth with, I need to log my time. I need to go to a status update meeting where I sit there. I don’t actually say much, but I’ve just lost 45 minutes that could have been, you know, extended, deep thinking time. Hive aspires to do all the things for the team that don’t require the core talents of a team. Hive will never draw you a beautiful graphic. That’s your job. The Hive can make sure that it seamlessly gets to your client, that the approval of that is super easy, that you never need to tell your manager that you did it because I’ve got that covered for you. Hive can do all those pieces, so that if we do our jobs properly, you spend as much of your day as possible doing what you love and doing what you’re super talented at.
I love that picture of like the stagehands dress in black, kind of like, kind of being transparent to make sure that all of the, you know, all of the play so to speak is sort of going as planned, but actually being quite invisible and I was reading about the product and I was like, Oh, AI based project management software. Is it going to manage my projects for me? Not in the sort of literal sense of the word, but it is going to amplify my ability to do my job, to focus on, you know, to your point, the human side of things, uh, the risk management side of things and things that we can’t necessarily automate, but, you know, so that we don’t have to spend time. Yeah.
Reporting up and saying, listen, my task is done or receiving all those reports saying, okay, my task is done. Um, just freeing up people’s time so that they can focus on what they do best. I really liked that. That’s very cool and then just, I mean, like you mentioned, the world’s a different place than it was before 2020, and anyone who sort of had a plan had their plan turned on its head and I’m sure Hive also had its plans turned on its head to a certain extent. Um, what are some of the challenges that you’re dealing with today as an organization?
I think, uh, there’s just going to be the key question is culture, right? Of course it’s culture. So we went from being an organization, um, altogether in the world trade center, uh, Aaron, uh, New York, um, and suddenly we went, I mean, I remember so vividly as many other people will do. I remember the day that we took the call to, uh, to move, to work from home. I remember leaving like that afternoon and us all saying, you know how crazy this is? We’ll see you in like on like Monday or, you know, first thing was like, are we gonna be out of the office for three days or whatever? And little did we know that that was actually the last day that we would spend in the office together. So we, um, we moved to remote. I think that the culture question is, uh, human beings are inherently sociable animals. How do you, how do you maintain the bonds of friendship and professional trust and, you know, pride in each other in a world where you are not going to be spending all day together?
Now I have to say, I, I do think it’s a mistake argument to believe that anybody needs to be sat at a computer next to another person on a computer for eight hours in the same space to accomplish that, right? If anything, you know, might be too much time together, you know what I mean? I think what we’re looking for, which is what any sense of organization is looking for is what’s that halfway ground. How do we maintain the bonds of professional friendship and communication in a world where we’re not together, you know, 9:15 on a Monday morning and, uh, around a water cooler, you know.
For sure and has there been anything that really works or has been working for your teams?
Well, we’re going bowling on first day, which is pretty exciting. So that’s, that’s the, that’s the return of the, uh, of the old school stuff. We have some rituals that matter to us. So two examples of rituals that are important to our culture. First one, I was taught by a man called David Politis. Um, runs a wonderful company called BetterCloud. Um, and that is, uh, they, they, they call them User Manuals. So when anybody joins our organization, there’s a set of about 10, 11 questions. If anyone’s curious, they can see it on my, um, I posted on my LinkedIn about 10 or 11 questions, uh, that’s quite funny. It treats you like a machine and if, and as a machine, how do we operate you most successfully? So the questions are things like, when you receive feedback, how would you prefer to do that?
If somebody asks you to do something, what’s the way that you like to be asked? Do you like, you know, more noise or less than always sorts of things and that’s super helpful in calibrating how to get the best from somebody, how to avoid stepping on someone’s toes cause there’s also questions like what have you found frustrating in prior work environments and it’s super, super helpful. So that allows us to um, be sensitive to each individual person’s makeup and everybody’s is built slightly differently. And the second one that we personally do at Hive, we have a thing called Happy Hive on a Friday. While whole company joins on Zoom and super simple, super quick format. We just, the rules are, you have to say, you’re going to pick one person. You have to pick one person and say one helpful thing that they did for you during the week.
So if you think about what that sort of manifests as, that means that, you know, people spend 20 minutes on a Friday just hearing a series of things that somebody else accomplished. Where that person isn’t blowing their own trumpet, they’re blowing somebody else’s. So it’s a very nice feeling together. If you think about another, you know, the reason I think is quite clever, um, format is it’s also our company stay for Sunday meeting, huh? Because if you think about it, if someone’s read, if someone’s listing out the things someone else has done for them, by definition, the most interesting and impactful things from the week are going to be shared. So it’s kind of like a three in one, you know.
That’s very cool. I love that. That’s very cool and I mean, coming back to the sort of user manual thing, one thing, uh, you know, we are so guilty sometimes as organizations of just assuming that everybody is going to like fit into a mold or work the same way and what I love about Hive’s philosophy is that it recognizes that everybody works a little differently. That’s baked into your product and the way that you, you approach, uh, some of these challenges.
Yeah. We’re grateful to one of our early investors, Michael Scott Owen from Rembrandt Venture Partners. When we first spoke to him, he said, it can be very difficult to accomplish this at scale because people work so differently and just as you second, like I would say almost the first decision we made was that our folks will be able to use Hive in radically different ways on the same team and that would be okay. If I give you the simplest example of, of something that brought me great joy in the early days we made this bet.
We bet that one of the reasons why tools that be very familiar with like Tech at Trello, for example, very, very popular with folks and my bet was, I think it’s the way it looks and feels, right? And that’s a big part of why it works for people. But then you ask somebody else. So now, you know, Microsoft Project, absolute aficionado, and I thought to myself, but those guys often work on the same team, right? Imagine a team, multidisciplinary team. I’ve got a project manager, I’ve got a designer, I’ve got an engineer, I’ve got a marketing person. These folks are working the same project. So what tool are we going to use? Do you know what I mean? Like, because there’s a difference.
So that was one of the first batch that made a Hive was that you could view your project data in whatever layout was most natural to you and I wasn’t sure if this was a good idea or not, whether this is real or not and yet now when we introduce a new team to Hive, as a very specific thing that we often do in our first meeting, which is when we first show to a group of people, we showed the different layouts and, you know, people are, I don’t know where they’re going with this and then we say, okay, around this room, put your hand up or indicate go around the room. Which one do you like best? Never in all my time of doing high five years, have I ever had a situation where you don’t get flat for different answers. As in it, it reminds you of the fact that these, these people have seen exactly the same options. And yet due to that individual nurse and a different, you know, the way their brain functions, what they’ve seen before, they just prefer different things. And I think that philosophy is important in many aspects of teamwork, but you should never think to yourself, we’re all trying to be the same or what’s the right way to do this for everybody. No, you recognize the fact that that humans as machines and people why we’re different from each other and you must keep that front of mind to be successful.
I love that. I love that. I love that philosophy and I love that sort of practice of just putting it up in front of people and just post checking every now and again, you know. Have we become homogenous robots yet? Nope, probably never will. Uh, I I’m wondering if there’s any top secret things on your Product Roadmap, knowing that, you know, your plans, things shifted, right? And to your point, that things shifted remotely and, and some would argue things shifted in Hive’s favor in the sense that everyone suddenly needs a different way to collaborate remotely, um. There’s people working from home who were just weren’t used to working from home before were relying on SAS tools a lot. Um, has there been anything, uh, that’s been added to the Product Roadmap that you just genuinely were not planning in 2019 or any sort of fun tidbits that you can share?
A hundred percent and it’s, and it’s a perfect segue into, into the article that we wrote. I had been blind to the, to how important the meeting is in terms of successful, um, project management. And I think the reason why it became so, so blindingly clear is somehow a bad Zoom is somehow even worse than about it in person. So if you’re in a meeting that is unsuccessful and it’s on Zoom, man that’s obvious. And so very, very quickly we were like, hang on this is an absolutely core paradigm to anybody working in a small, large organization. How are they running these meetings? Zoom fatigue, people not wanting to be on Zoom all day long. The loss of the ability to sort of tap them on the shoulder or bump into somebody physically means that meetings have become a different beast. And so your question was, what’s, what’s changed our product roadmap? We were making a huge bat that we can deliver better meetings, that we can help people, um, run meetings that are both highly accomplished and demonstrate that own excellence to their peers because I know that as a meeting attendee, if the facilitator of that meeting does a great job, it’s one of the most impressive things that I experienced in my professional life. I’m like, darn that was good. God, that was tight. Like you use every person, like a conductor of an orchestra, you know.
I totally agree. Um, and absolutely a bad Zoom meeting is just exponentially worse than a bad in-person meeting. And yeah, maybe it’s not appreciated enough. I think it’s appreciated now. Um, but maybe still not enough that appreciation of facilitating a good meeting, especially when it’s, you know, a remote sort of video conferencing, uh, situation. And I think that’s, I think you’re right. I think it’s a perfect segue into talking about your articles. So let’s, let’s, let’s talk a bit about that. So you recently did a post on The Digital Project Manager on bad meetings and the impact that they can have on an otherwise perfectly good project.
So, uh, for those of you listening, who haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, I’m going to include a link in the show notes below. Check it out, it’s an excellent read. And John first, I have to say that as a huge meeting nerd and a perfectionist who is always putting a lot of effort into sort of planning a meeting only to have none of them really kind of go the way I’d like them to, uh, reading your article was really sort of soberingly relatable, um, but let’s maybe start from the beginning overall. So uh, w we’re kind of been hinting at this just in terms of meetings. Uh, they’re not everybody’s favorite thing. Sometimes it can be a huge time suck. So I thought I’d ask just your take on why do so many people hate meetings and why our calendar is still full of meetings regardless?
Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, if you take the absolute basic tenets of a good meeting and then you check against your own calendar, what proportion of your meetings meet those? The answer, as you said, is kind of sobering, right? So I think there’s some absolute basics. If, if the meeting can only go ahead if you’re there, you should be included. And if not, you should not. I mean, geez, that’s 50% of meetings, right? You’re there. You just didn’t need to be, right? You could have been sent the output from the meeting. It could have been done a sync, that kind of stuff.
Second one, absolute favorite is the meeting with no purpose. Love that meeting. You all show up, you sort of vaguely talk about things that have been on your mind a bit, and then you sort of sign off and for some people that might be a nice way to catch up. But for a lot of other people, they feel kind of robbed of that time like I was actually doing something that I was really proud of. I was working hard and you’ve dragged me into this situation, I kind of can’t escape from. And the third one for me of the absolute pillars of a good meeting, first is, you know, attendees. Second is purpose and the third one is did something about the world change because we had this meeting. That’s the other sort of like real test for me on a basic level of course, that’s, that’s, uh, next steps that are actually, you know, to actually do something, but it’s also, it can be quite shocking as well that you can go to a meeting where the attendees are good.
The purpose when we set out was perfectly sensible and yet somehow during the meeting, we never got to a next step. So we’ve made ourselves feel good. We’ve talked through a problem. But if the wall’s not going to be different after the meeting from before the meeting, we’ve got to be tough on ourselves and say it didn’t need to happen. And so that’s what, that’s the, that’s the cadence that we’re trying to help with. That’s the things that we believe are, are doable. And to tie back to your original question, why do people hate meetings? Because they know that one of those three things fails, and that it was a waste of their time.
Hundred percent, hundred percent. I really liked that.
Yeah. Meetings with impact, uh, with purpose. Oh, I wonder if you might be able to tell us about the worst meeting that you’ve ever been in?
Oh, it’s clearly seared into my memory. It was a governmental organization filled with very, very smart people working on a very, very important project that was providing aid overseas. And this it’s it’s recurring, recurring meetings are always the worst. The worst meeting crimes, all that’s happened recurring meeting. Um, because these things are sort of immortal, right? They just, they just roll around. They come back and can’t kill a darn thing. It’s always there and this meeting basically was where we would take every single person from the whole program, which sit in a room together. We’d walk down an Excel spreadsheet of line items of things that hadn’t been done. We would confirm that they hadn’t been done and then we’d leave the room.
So it was to do exactly the same exercise the following week and it was, I just, I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it. I was like, think about that we shouldn’t all be here because my stuff’s done. So I don’t need to sit here and listen to that, that isn’t done. So the attendees was wrong. What was the purpose of that meeting? Cause the purpose of that meeting was to unblock items in the project and you can’t do that by asking how things are going the whole way down. You’ve got to find the blocked things and talk about how to unblock them and then the last piece in terms of next steps. Oh, hell no, next steps, no. Once we’ve had a good chat about the fact that everything’s blocked, it’s off to lunch. So yeah, it was horrendous.
And then that list keeps getting longer and longer because things aren’t getting done.
They’ve got 79 line items, that’s someone somebody says, should we just archive off the top 40 and of course, one way in the 40 is a horrible risk that then manifests.
Uh, such a, such a comedic scenario, really when you, when you, when you tell it like that, and yet you’re right. So many of our recurring meetings are that, are exactly that. So that actually might be a perfect segue into just talking about the article. So maybe we can talk about the thesis of the article, which is sort of your formula for project success and I wondered if maybe you could just give our listeners an overview of your approach to meetings and how to make them successful like in the article you talk about three key stages. You talk about a pre-meeting stage. You talk about during meetings and you talk about post meetings. Could you dive a bit into that?
Yeah, for sure. So a lot of your project management folks will be familiar, I’ve taught at some point in the past about the kind of plan, do, review cycle. Um, that’s, you know, very, very core to successful project management overall and I think there’s quite a neat, uh, connection that a meeting should be seen as a mini projects. And if a meeting should be seen as a mini project, then we need to plan, do and review, right? So if you think about like that, that for me really helps me.
We’re all busy, roughly a thousand things going on. I like to have simple mental models that allow me to check whether I, when I’ve done everything when I’m running around. So for a meeting, uh, the plan, do, review, pre, during, and post. So for pre-meeting, two key things. You can mess up everything else, but if you get the agenda right, and you get the attendee list right, you’re going to be doing better than 75% of people who are running that meeting. And of course the activity list we’re going for smaller if possible, to make greatest people’s time and on the agenda and sharing the things up crisp, clear, and we have objectives, um, uh, for the outcome that you want from the meeting. I found it, uh, immeasurably useful.
If you say a bit upfront in sort of meeting it, you know, sales, it’s called the sort of upfront contract between you and perks you’re working with. If you say, Hey, by the time that we leave this room today, we want to have, let’s imagine it’s an agreed top three priority list for marketing, for Q1. It’s such a helpful thing to allow your meeting attendees, to help you facilitate, because if one of your attendees it is straying from that pathway, someone can say in a very polite, very calm way. Hey, I think we need to make sure that we get to the top three things from our team for Q1. It’s a, it’s a lovely guide. I bring you back. So pre-agenda and attendees, you get those two, right? You get me in great shape.
Then during, and this is what’s a little bit newer and this is how we think the world is going to change. So for me in the, um, both private and public sector organizations, large and small, capturing stuff in a meeting, has either been sort of the most junior person is sat off to one side taking notes or in my view, way more common. Most people aren’t taking notes, but a couple of diligent people are quietly making notes on their notepad, right?
And what does that mean? That means the, afterwards the folks who are slightly less well-organized just drop their next steps, right? Because they’ve gone into the ether. And then lastly, the other sort of problem at faces, is somebody makes a slightly vague statement about, well, I really think marketing should X, half the room thinks that marketing is going to go and do something. And half the room probably marketing thinks there’s nothing really needs to be done. So what do we believe is going to change about the world. We believe that the next steps captured in a meeting are gonna be visible to everybody as it happens so that it’s crystal clear that we are either taking on a next step or we’re not. Who’s doing it and of course, for the basics of a next step, often as a timeline with it, right? So Bob is going to do X by next Friday. Lisa is going to do Y by next Tuesday. Everyone can see that clearly as it happens. Super, super, super clear and then the other part there is to make sure that everybody in the meeting has the opportunity to contribute. A technique that I particularly recommend that is to call folks out by name.
Um, again, in terms of character and personality type, there are folks who will simply not speak up, but they’ve probably noticed something that the rest of us have missed. And the only way that we get that gem into the meeting is to say, Hey, Simon, you’ve obviously heard everything from today. What do you think the biggest risk is? And Simon or Lisa or Jim will pop up and say, well, have we considered the fact that that’s illegal in Germany? And we’ll be like, that is an absolutely outstanding point, right? Let’s revisit. You know what I mean? But we only got back because we practically pulled for everyone’s in there.
Hundred percent. I love that so
Pre, during and post, and then post the key here. So let’s imagine that we nailed the agenda. We nailed the attendee list. We showed up. We capture our next steps publicly. We got everybody’s input. Now we’re so close. We’re so close to the line. If we stop that we still have that having accomplished nothing. So the next piece is how does everybody get those next steps to their own work lists? And how do we as a facilitator or a project manager and ensure they actually happen? So my argument is the problem that we wanted to go after is easy agenda, easy attendee list, easy to capture the meeting, easy everyone’s input, easy show them afterwards and easy to make sure that everyone’s done what they said they would do and that’s the three pillars that we are Hive at trying to, I tried to provide tech that makes it easier to do the best practice that you can do manually, anyway. Does that make sense?
It makes total sense and I’m like, in my head, I’m thinking like, okay. Yeah. Like sometimes the barricade to all of that, even if we’re all have, even if we all have the best of intentions, what ends up happening is the sort of spaghetti mess of tools and it’s like in somebody’s notebook or to do list or Evernote or, you know yeah. You’re putting it in teams as a filing teams with a minutes, but no, one’s finding it. It’s not all in one place, even if people wanted it, uh, you know, wanted to use all of these, um, all these strategies for effective meetings.
It sort of becomes, you know, the wild West in terms of tooling, but to bring it all together, which I think is sort of that vision of, of, of what Hive can help do. Um, I think just streamlines that entire effort and, and sort of builds a culture around it. There’s so much in there that I want to unpack and I think my first point that I wanted to jump in at was just that pre the pre-stage.
So one of the things you talked about specifically in the article is it’s kickoff meetings and I know my listeners and myself, like we were obsessed with kickoff meetings. Just getting a project started off on the right foot and to your point, it is like the PR the meeting that is a project in and of itself, um, but it’s one of those meetings that like, people just kind of think of it as like a. Uh, a box you have to tick, um, you kind of show up and it’s there, and information is going to get pushed at you, um, but coming back to the sort of upfront contract.
Yes, having an agenda, uh, I’ll find a good getting the right people they’re all fine and good but how do you set that expectation that everybody’s going to have to do something in this meeting? It’s not like a sit and listen meeting, um, I’ve been in a situation where I’ve crafted some of the best agendas that I well, like an agenda that I think is excellent and then I get to the meeting and nobody’s read it cause like everyone’s got the invite. They said, yes. They’re like 11 o’clock sir. I’m just going to show up. They weren’t even expecting it to turn agenda. How do you get people to participate or expected to participate?
I’ve had that. So I think one has to be careful about trying to create things in a group. Um, you know, if we, if we read, um, human psychology carefully and we, and we look at the studies that have been done by many, um, talented researchers, um, groups tend to perform more slowly than individuals on their own. Um, one of my favorite, um, sort of proof points to this is I talked about the, um, you know, building bridges and towers in sort of summer camp, you know, earlier, and just very quickly we did a research, they tried different types of groups of people to see who could build a toys tower or, you know, made the strongest bridge, uh, and I tried like, um, Scientists, Engineers, Teachers, you know, the empties, various groups of people. Guess which group of people was by far the most successful in this exercise? What, what, what category of person.
And you would hope so, right? You’d hope construction workers, right? Turns out it turns out it’s children and the reason, so very young children. And the reason that young children do so well in these exercises is that they actually don’t cooperate very much. They all go up and pick up a paper, a piece of string and a piece of whatever, and they just go and try and build this thing. And essentially, trial and error, it turns out to be a very strong technique, uh, for this game. Now I’m not arguing that we should, uh, you know, only have children on meetings that’d be a strange workplace, but what I am arguing is it’s important that pre-work is done prior to the meeting, so that when we are forcing ourselves to, to move at a pace of the whole group we’re doing so, because we need to.
So to your particular example, or would I advocate for, if we, if we have work that needs to be done together, I would be advocating that we expect Bob and Lisa to bring X to the table for the meeting or review and discussion and that, you know, Jim and Sally are bringing in item two to the table for review and discussion.
In my experience, the really successful thing is the gentle social pressure of knowing what I’ve done is going to be put on the table in front of everybody. So if you know, Bob and Lisa might fail to do that week one, but they’re not going to fail at week two because it’s going to be really embarrassing when it comes to their agenda rights and, and they have to admit, we didn’t get ready for this. So my, my advice would be exactly the same as that plan, do, review cycle, that the inputs to the meeting are critical and sometimes those inputs are going to be very meaningful and need to be done and as a facilitator, if I am using some sort of tool to see if we’re ready for the meeting, I’m going to know prior, and I’m going to ping Bob and Lisa and say, Hey, guys it’s going to be really embarrassing tomorrow morning. I think you need to put your finger on, get ready. You know.
I really liked that gentle pressure, um, absolutely and that’s the thing about meetings is there is this social pressure inherently in a meeting period, uh, that you can leverage and it’s not just a, Hey, everybody get ready to, be ready to participate. It’s actually like you are expected to bring this thing and then to your point, even if it doesn’t happen in that first meeting, well, the next time it probably will.
Yes, and it’s strange, people liked that, right? Ah, okay it’s so chaotic and full of information, overload the, for someone to say to me, for this meeting, the one thing you need to do is give us your top three projects for this year. Great. Now I know that I’ve prepped for the meeting. I know it’s the black and white. I know where I’m at and I write I’ve done it and I feel comfortable as opposed to, I’m sure I’m showing up. Not quite sure what’s expected of me or what’s gonna happen in the meeting.
Absolutely. No, I really liked that. And then I think that kind of brings us to the next stage. So like the in-meeting, uh, one of the things you talk about is sort of this collaborative meeting note-taking, uh, and yes, uh, I think, uh, the picture you painted earlier, it’s like, yeah, usually the most junior person in the room gets asked to take notes and, you know, they then shut off their brain and just capture, but aren’t then involved in the meeting, uh, or nobody takes notes, um, but this notion of like everybody taking notes together, I think is a fascinating thing. Um, and I think a lot of our listeners might ask, well, what does that look like in practice?
Yeah, I thought it would be chaotic, but I was wrong. I was wrong. Social pressure and the way that we work stops it being. So if you take a note and you structure it gently, and it has, uh, think about like a Google doc type canvas, right? And you have sort of official agenda and the bullets from the agenda, and then beneath you have like additional agenda items and then you have like next steps. You get this very, very cool dynamic where we can all see them and there’s little social interesting things that happen, right?
Someone will make a typo in the notes and somebody else will just go and take it as, as an entry because they’re watching it. They’re not writing anything, right? So they just picked some hyper and then somebody halfway through who would have interrupted the speaker with another thing they thought that they wants to talk about just pops it individually and agenda items so that it needs to be Texas place or the end of the agenda, once the meeting owner stuff has got through. And if we run out of time, we’re not going to get that, but that’s the way it should be, right? There’s extra items should, should play second fiddle to the, to the main ones. And then the next steps, the next steps are being written in front of us. So first one that somebody thinks isn’t quite right, they can just say, Hey, my understanding of that next step was that it had to be done by Friday. No, and everyone can see it. Everyone can fix our meeting outputs right then and there and I just think that’s such a healthier way to agree as a group. What we’re taking away from this experience, rather than having one person do it in isolation and then the awful, you know, CC email chain of, Hey, got this. Do you remember if it was the first day or next day? I hate that stuff, right? That’s that? So we walk away with a nice official, you know, shared understanding of what we said we would do together.
And I think that’s the, that’s the key there is that I think coming into this, I was like, okay, collaborative note-taking, you know. Everybody just automatically knows what to do and like, how has that ever going to happen? But to your point, it’s not it’s that it’s kinda messy. And it’s collaborative and you have to talk it out, you know, someone’s typing the same action item as you, and you can be like, no, I got this. And it’s actually a conversation of like doing work together.
Right? Of course you have somebody who is leading on taking next steps, of course we do. But it’s the fact that we can all contribute to getting the best possible notes rather than one person doing it and any mistakes they’ve made are now in the record forever, you know?
Yeah. It’s like peer reviewed in real time.
Yes, during the marketing team, it’s changed my life. It’s changed my life. It’s absolutely fantastic. I love it. I actually like that.
I mean, I think maybe, maybe even some of the posts is, is true as well, because I’m that person who, you know, I’ve taken the meeting minutes and the actions, and then I’m going to spend 15, 20 minutes afterwards, cleaning it all up and making, you know, making sure it all sort of makes sense and it’s polished and it’s something that you could, I don’t know, print and frame on the wall, which nobody has ever done ever but that’s my mindset. But what is your take on that? Is it like, whatever, whatever it is at the end of the meeting, that’s what it is? Or like, is there value in sort of putting some polish on some of it afterwards?
So here’s what we find is, is the reality. The stuff that you’re putting in that isn’t because of course that’s true, of course you want to polish things especially if it’s a client meeting, that type of thing. So we end off early, um, you know, early sort of betas, alphas people trying this. What we found was the stuff that they didn’t want to send out was actually stuff they never wanted to send out, but they didn’t want to forget what’s true. So you’re in a client meeting and you suddenly remember that X deliverable crap. We haven’t, we’ve forgotten it off the darn list. I must write that down somewhere. I’m typing right now. What do I do? Right? And that’s one of the reasons why the notes have to be secret and then polished and then sent out because they’ve got stuff in this basically sensitive.
So the way that we attract that was to sit and have a private note section. So the things are popping into your head that are, I don’t want to deal with this right now. I’m going to think about it afterwards popping the private section. So you can think about it afterwards and the main section is almost like the call record, right? The call record is like, here’s the things that are happy for everybody to see or whatever else and of course you can always type it up afterwards. Um, but I think it’s still healthy for folks to have seen what we’re all saying together and to your point, you just made. It is important to be able to write down things that are not shag immediately.
Yeah. I love that notion. I’m like, if you were to, if I were to share a page for my notebook, it’s like a very messy mix of that stuff. That’s actually happening in the meetings we’ll have a little note that says aside, uh, what do we do with that thing? Right? Or related
Put it somewhere. Yeah, I agree.
Just this, yeah. It’s these, these nodes of thoughts and yeah, not all of them are going to be for public records. I really do like that. I think that’s very cool. And then, I mean, what kind of impact have you seen collaborative note-taking have on a project? Does it, is it sort of something that changes like productivity overall or like an approach to meeting?
It’s velocity. It’s, if you think about the broker, I really am obsessed with carrier meetings. So are going to start interesting. Imagine if in a status update or carrier meeting where you’re trying to drive something through. Imagine if you could just get one or two extra items that are raised last week done prior to this week, the effect really compounds. So that project that was going sideways was behind or is about to go behind, actually, wow. It’s kind of starting to creep back again and why is it? It’s because we were crystal clear on the most pressing problems. We shared them really clearly. We held ourselves accountable and we damn all got them done prior to the following week. So now we’re biting into our backlog because all the stuff that was blocking us got done. So now it biting into the new stuff again, rather than coming next week and everybody feeling that sense of frustration and stagnation, because all we’re doing is talking about the same darn blockers every week.
Right. I like that. I think that’s very cool and I think that this sort of notion of like recurring meetings and iterating and being productive in them, um, I think it, it was a bit of an enlightening thing actually. So, actually the sort of rinse and repeat aspect of the article was actually my favorite because I had actually never really thought about meetings as a project process, right? So as project managers, we’re like, okay, we need like a, we need a process for project communications. We need a process for risk management, uh, you know, planning and sort of, you know, uh, dealing with change but meetings is probably that thing. It’s one of those like hybrid soft and hard skill things where we just kind of assume that it’s going to be fine or that somebody is going to be good enough at doing it, or we’ll get better at it over time, but we don’t really design it, um, but it seems to me, it struck me that you were somebody who kind of approached meetings as something to design.
Yes. Treating a meeting, like, like a project and needing to kind of craft how that, how that works. Um, and I think it’s great. Why, why shouldn’t it be? Um, but then I got to thinking I’m like, okay, well, where does one start? Like when building a framework for meetings and meeting notes and traceable actions, is it something that sort of starts as a personal style as a, as a manager or somebody facilitating meetings? Or is it something that like, especially a Hive, it’s something that you sort of deliberately design and go, okay. We need a meeting framework before we even start this project.
I, I I’d love to say I’m clever enough to have a call with myself. So, um, we talked about my early career. I worked at Capgemini, a consulting firm in the UK where they put me through how learning how to run a design and run a great meeting. One of the things that, uh, the folks at Capgemini are probably even best that is running great sort of implementation programs and bringing facts together for effective meetings, um, and yeah, there’s just like 60 slides worth of things to consider aspect. There’s also really subtle things, right? There’s things like, I mean, it’s not true on Zoom, but in a physical meeting room, things like temperature, things like time of day, are people hungry? Are people thirsty? Are people too hot? Do you know what I mean? All these things that contribute to you just be so important remember we’re animals, you know we’re animals and if you want to get the best out of us, treat us well. You know what I mean? Get us, get good sugar into our bodies. I mentioned that we’re feeling fresh. Choose the time of day. If it’s contentious meeting, you might want to go later in the day when people are feeling sort of more mallow and fixed in.
If it’s really mentally difficult, getting there early while we’ve still got our high mental reserves. I love that, that sort of thing but to be specific, I was, I was still allowed to do it. If people are interested that they’re welcome to reach out to me and I’ll, I’ll see if I can find any, uh, materials that I of course would not still have kept.
Oh, bless the management consultants. There’s just like an ocean of knowledge. Uh, probably all acquired the hard way, right? Of having too many just before lunch meetings or just after lunch meetings and I think the old way of looking at it would have been, well, you’re being overly considerate, you know, like the old way was just like, okay, suck it up.
Everyone, you know, has to be in this meeting and be effective but then especially when exactly what you said, right? You’re a consultant working with a client but not just the client, the executive team of the client organization, things have to go right and we’re animals and we need to be coming back to that, your user manual thing.
It’s like, yeah, we can optimize and tune the machine because everybody’s different and we all have different needs. Um, and there are some things that we can predict and just make good decisions around for those meetings to be effective because at the end of the day, they’re, they’re not just meetings.
A lot of people are, you know, would say, okay, just a meeting or I’ve got to be in this meeting and it’s just, sidebar but especially as I’m reading through your article, it’s like, but actually it’s the work getting done. It’s collaboration. It’s not necessarily just being in a meeting and talking, and then all the work happens outside of the meeting. It’s actually being organized enough before the meeting, executing the meeting very effectively. So that work is getting done and things are clear. And then just being clear about what actually has to get done afterwards before the next meeting. So that there’s that sort of gentle, or maybe sometimes not so gentle accountability to actually move the ball forward, which is kind of what it’s all about.
Exactly, and it’s moving the ball forward. That’s that’s the perfect analogy, right? A great meeting carries that ball down the field, and that’s the real test. Did you collectively get that darn ball? Yeah, 20 yards further down the field. If yes, you succeed and if no, like you said, have another crack. Dust yourself off, try again the week after. We’ll find a better way to do it, you know.
That’s a, that’s a great thing about yeah. Those, those iterations on it, for sure and I think, I mean, there’s, there’s, there’s also a cultural question in there as well. And actually the note I had here was just like, okay, It’s a really interesting approach, um, and I feel like, you know, the things that we’ve been talking about, right? Like, so having that upfront contract and setting expectations that things are going to happen in the meeting that you’re going to have to do things in the meeting and then you’re going to have to do things after the meeting, um, and it seems to me like it might drive this culture of collaboration because it’s not like meetings that are useless and then working in isolation, which is you know, arguably more useful. It’s like, that is part of the collaboration. Or, or is it the other way around where actually you need to establish this culture of collaboration before you can have meetings like these. What do you think?
I think, uh, I think I, a well-run meeting will be more effective irrespective of whether your culture is already good or bad. I think a well-run meeting is just a work of beauty. I think in terms of collaboration, I still believe that if you look at US productivity studies from, um, Bureau of Labor Statistics, we actually have made very few games since about 1953 post-war. And I believe one of the reasons for that is actually, uh, collaboration causing too much interruption.
So the belief that everything that’s going on needs to be broadcast to everybody at all times when, you know, somebody might be trying to focus, trying to really focus on something they’re working on. So I personally believe that the sweet spot or that the day, and the challenge in collaboration is not how to get as many people into as many conversations as possible. That’s chaos. I think the game is how do we free up people to do deep work with all the information they need from the touchpoints when they need to collaborate. And I, and I certainly believe when I speak to our own team, uh, there would be probably more people who would say, God, I appreciate the opportunity for deep work, than people who said, I never feel like I know what’s going on. Do you know what I mean? So we create the space for folks to focus, you know.
That’s it’s like, it’s such a fine balance, um, but I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, I’ve been in a lot of conversations recently where it’s like, Oh, well, you know, w we want, we want to be informed and like, someone’s like, okay, well, let’s figure out what meetings you need to go to so that you can get informed, but that’s not the only way to do it. Not just block yourself, block your entire, entire calendar and never get any deep work done. That’s not going to solve the problem either.
Yeah. Awesome. John, listen, this perspective on good versus bad meetings and how it can impact project success, I think it was, was so valuable and the article, I just really enjoyed it, uh. I think one of the things that really resonated with me is just this notion that like, it’s collaboration and it’s not going to be tidy because I think going into it, I was like, okay, collaborative note-taking and like, front contracts and it’s gotta be all tickety-boo, right? You need like, you know, everything in a straight line, but actually what makes it work is that dynamic. Is that communication in the room is sort of not these like very siloed roles in a meeting even, right?
You’re the note taker. You’re the person who talks and presents, but we’re all going to like work on this thing together and we’re all going to look at it together and I’m going to fix your typo and that’s okay and we’re going to, we’re actually collaborating on making, you know, decent looking meeting minutes and getting work done at the same time, uh. That just kind of like, it changed it for me, cause I was like, Oh yeah, it doesn’t have to be, uh, it doesn’t have to be really polished, um, because collaboration isn’t, it’s about moving the ball forward, um. I wonder just to kind of cap off, uh, I wonder if you could shed some advice, um. What would, what would you recommend that somebody do to start getting their calendar organized so that they’re going to those useful meetings, you know? We started out talking about meetings that you have to be in, meetings with a purpose, meetings that are going to have impact, um. And how does someone in, in, in sort of in any position or, or at any level start to kind of clean up their calendar based on that criteria?
A hundred percent. So to look at it, if you’re the attendee, I think it is wholely acceptable if you do it in the right frame of mind to say, Hey, I feel like I would love to focus on Tuesday’s really hard. Do you mind if I excuse myself from the X meeting? Uh, I feel like I get really good updates from you on a Friday. That’s sufficient for me and I want to accomplish this, this and this for you this. I’ve been, that’s an underused kind of technique just to get, just to get out done thing, right?
You don’t need to be at a gal that and do some more useful and then from the, if I’m running the meeting, just audit the stuff from your week, look at your agendas, look at your attendee lists and go pruning. Do you know what I mean? Make sure that you have outcome focused agenda for each of your meetings. Make sure that you don’t have sort of legacy attendees on that. You know, the team that used to be called to the project, but they’re not really there anymore, but they like to come along because, you know. And I really do believe that whenever we do that in our organization, I would say it’s very unusual that we can’t get rid of 20% of either someone’s meetings or a meeting that somebody, you know, mixing that someone and create some runs.
Always, always you can do it. And you’ll get that time back and you can use that time just as we said, at the very beginning to work on stuff that you’re really talented at, that you really enjoy. That’s a better way to spend your time than stuck in a, in an administrative meeting.
I love that. Awesome. John, listen, this is a really good conversation. Thanks for coming on the show. Uh, I learned a lot from the article. For our listeners, if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do, uh, John’s article on how bad meetings can impact the success for project. Uh, it’s got a lot of great strategies in there for just making sure that you’re treating meetings in a way that makes it less of a drag and actually helps move the ball forward and get work done. Uh, so great tips in there. John, always a fun conversation.
Thank you for shedding light on. Just your approach to meetings and also what you’ve got going on at Hive. Um, I am really eager to see how some of these new features are all out and I wish you guys all the best of luck.
Appreciate it, Galen. Thank you very much.
So what do you think? What are your hacks, tips, and tricks for getting work done in meetings and driving your project forward? What works? What doesn’t? Tell us a story. Where do your meetings always seem to go wrong? And what strategies have led to your biggest meeting wins? Tell us in the comments below.
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