Effective Teams, Leadership

Technology tools for virtual collaboration

When I started consulting, most of my work was in person. I have spent the last several months adjusting and have been using more technology to collaborate with clients. I wanted to share a few tools that may be helpful for your work. I welcome your suggestions for technology that has been helpful for you.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Google Jamboard: I use this free Google app for collaboration during Zoom meetings. Jamboard is a digital whiteboard that allows you to post “sticky notes” and draw. I regularly use it for virtual brainstorming, asking meeting attendees to share a “hope” for our meeting, and debriefing a meeting. I adjust the share settings and provide a link to the Jamboard in the chat box. 

Digital whiteboards: There are several different digital whiteboard products available, and I have used Microsoft Whiteboard, Mural, and Miro. Whiteboards are a great tool for collaboration and capturing ideas. The products listed above have many features that are not included in a simple digital whiteboard like Google Jamboard. The board’s owner can give access to others by sharing a link. 

Loom (loom.com): is a free video sharing site. I use Loom for sending personal video messages to individuals. This can be a great way to personally connect with employees and clients. You can also use Loom to record your screen and show someone else how to use a software program. Loom has a free version, but you can also upgrade to access more features.

Slack (slack.com): Slack is a messaging app that is commonly used by companies and other organizations. You can create a team workspace for communication, share documents, and search for previous communication. I use Slack for asynchronous communication with teams. Slack has a free version, but you can also upgrade to access more features.

Trello (trello.com): Trello is a project management app that I use for my “to do” list and for team projects. You can have multiple team members on a board, assign tasks, upload documents, create deadlines, and utilize many other features. Trello has a free version, but you can also upgrade to access more features.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I wrote a blog titled “Leading effective virtual meetings.” http://bit.ly/3aX8xQj

One of the major challenges of collaboration is getting people together at the same time for meetings. I am excited about opportunities for asynchronous collaboration. There are aspects of in person meetings that are difficult to replicate, but there are also many advantages of virtual collaboration. What tools are your teams using to enhance collaboration? 

We are using these tools for facilitating strategic planning processes, leadership coaching, creative problem solving training, collaboration, building relationships, and managing work. If you want to learn more, please contact us.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Innovation and preparing for post-pandemic life

As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, our clients regularly discuss the importance of encouraging innovative thinking and building effective teams. I am encouraged by the rapid development of vaccines and think life may feel more “normal” as we progress through 2021. Our organizations have seen many changes over the last several months. Most of us have embraced technology in ways that we would not have imagined at the beginning of 2020. 

As we discuss pressing needs with our current and prospective clients, we are hearing some similar themes. Organizations are looking to:

  1. Develop a more cohesive team in this remote work environment.
  2. Encourage innovative thinking among individuals and the team.
  3. Develop individuals’ appreciation and understanding of team member differences.
  4. Introduce a common vocabulary that fosters more creative and collaborative thinking. 
  5. Prepare for conducting business post-COVID.

I previously wrote a blog titled “Encouraging a more innovative culture” that will provide ideas for applying in your organization.

We’re excited to offer a two hour virtual Creative Thinking Boot Camp that helps teams build individual and collective abilities to think creatively and work collaboratively. This is one of our most popular introductory offerings and has been used by a wide variety of organizations to build more creative, collaborative, and effective teams. 

The Two Hour Boot Camp is offered through a highly interactive and engaging online Zoom workshop. We’ve all attended many boring webinars, but this workshop includes hands on exercises, discussions, and small group activities. It has been well received by businesses, nonprofits, churches, and schools. 

Participants learn about why innovation is so important now, divergent and convergent thinking, what hinders creativity and innovation, and characteristics of effective and innovative teams. In advance of the workshop, participants will complete the Basadur Profile which is used to help them understand how they and those around them approach creativity and problem solving. At the end of the workshop, participants will discuss how they can apply these skills within their organization.

We are scheduling Creative Thinking Boot Camps right now. This is an important time to start post-pandemic planning. Please contact us for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership

Leading effective virtual meetings

I recently led a webinar about leading effective meetings. At this point in the pandemic, the novelty of virtual meetings has worn off. I hear people talk about missing the “in person” experience that occurs through informal conversations, reading body language, and personal connection. 

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I offer some thoughts on virtual meetings that I hope are helpful for organizations: 

  1. Is a virtual meeting necessary? We have all sat through in person and virtual meetings that were unnecessary. I find virtual meetings to be most effective for group problem solving, team building, gathering outside input, and collaborative projects. Before you schedule meetings, consider the purpose of the meeting and whether the work and/or communication can take place in another format. There may be other ways to communicate or collaborate, such as video messaging (Loom), team communication (Slack), or project management (Trello).
  2. Thinking like an “event planner”: When event planners prepare for conventions, weddings, or special events, they are very intentional about focusing on the experience of attendees. We could all benefit from reflecting on what experience our virtual meeting attendees will have. 

In my experience leading virtual meetings, I recommend the following best practices:

  1. Provide instructions when people log in: As soon as people log into a virtual meeting, it can be helpful to share expectations on the screen or in the chat. For example, you can welcome attendees and let them know when the meeting will begin. You can also ask them to share information in the chat or mute themselves. 
  2. Build community: With virtual meetings, we often miss out on the community building that occurs naturally during in person meetings. Begin meetings with an icebreaker to help connect people. 
  3. Establish ground rules: For larger meetings, we need to be more formal with ground rules. Be sure to explain the system for responding to questions or participating in the discussion. You can ask people to stay muted when not speaking or explain expectations for staying on camera.
  4. Breakout rooms: Breakout rooms are a great way to foster engagement during larger meetings. They can break up the time and make meetings feel quicker and more productive. 
  5. Frequent breaks: “Zoom fatigue” is real. I recommend including frequent breaks during virtual meetings. For longer meetings, you can meet for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. Giving the group a stretch break every 25 minutes can also help. 
  6. Shorter meetings: With in person meetings, it is not uncommon to meet for several hours. I think we should set a maximum of 2-3 hours for virtual meetings to avoid “Zoom fatigue” and maintain engagement.
  7. Waiting for responses: There is value in giving group members time to respond. For example, after asking a question, count to ten before moving on. Internet speeds, slowness of finding the unmute button, and taking time to think can cause a delay in responding during virtual meetings compared to in person meetings. 
  8. Debrief: Virtual meetings are still relatively new to us. I recommend spending a few minutes at the end of each meeting asking questions like “What went well during this meeting?” or “What could have gone better?” We can take this information into consideration as we plan future virtual meetings. 

We have all learned a lot about virtual meetings in recent months. I welcome your input or suggestions on how we can make virtual meetings more effective. 

How can we help your organization?

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Innovation

Encouraging a more innovative culture

As organizations are navigating the COVID-19, many organizations are forced to adapt or face dire consequences. Leaders are asking, “How might we develop a more innovative culture?”

In a previous blog, I applied John Kotter’s change management process to crisis planning. The first step of his process is “Create a sense of urgency.” The pandemic has provided a “sense of urgency. Organizations can view this time as an opportunity to evaluate how they operate and determine how they will behave in the future. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle shares three skills of highly successful organizational cultures: (1) Build safety, (2) Share vulnerability, and (3) Establish purpose. Under each skill, I’ve included strategies for leaders to encourage innovation. 

Skill 1: Build safety

When we “build safety,” team members experience a sense of belonging. In addition, they feel psychologically safe to share new ideas without fear of judgement or repercussion.

“Build safety” innovation strategy #1: Google has studied the characteristics of effective teams, and the most important characteristic is psychological safety. One strategy they use to encourage psychological safety is to begin meetings with each team member sharing a recent risk they took. No judgement is passed on whether the risk taking led to a successful result.

“Build safety” innovation strategy #2: Our approach to facilitating creative problem solving includes divergent and convergent thinking. Instead of traditional meetings that invite evaluation after each new idea is shared, we encourage collecting all ideas while deferring judgement. After all ideas are collected, we then use convergent thinking to evaluate ideas and begin focusing our options. This approach fosters creative thinking and psychological safety. 

Skill 2: Share vulnerability

Team members who display vulnerability willingly share when they don’t know something and need help. They are willing to admit when they are wrong and encourage learning from mistakes. 

“Share vulnerability” innovation strategy #1 Similar to the Google strategy to foster psychological safety, I encourage teams to find opportunities for each team member to share something they want or need to learn in the near future. Team members can volunteer to impart knowledge to others who desire to learn more about a topic. 

“Share vulnerability” innovation strategy #2: When we suggest new ideas to our team members, we often feel compelled to “sell” the idea as a complete solution. I recommend developing a meeting environment that allows team members to present ideas as imperfect and incomplete. In this type of seeing, we can admit that our ideas are not perfect and solicit open and honest feedback from our team members. 

Skill 3: Establish purpose

Team members share a sense of shared purpose. They understand why their organization exists and have a shared vision for the future. 

“Establish purpose” innovation strategy #1: In recent years, Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action has emphasized the importance of determining our individual and organizational purpose (our “why”) before we identify our “how” and “what.” All employees can benefit from understanding their organization’s purpose and aligning their decisions with it. 

“Establish purpose” innovation strategy #2: Leaders need to articulate their organization’s purpose and intentionally discuss what that means and looks like. Leaders can highlight important decisions and recognize individuals who live out the organization’s purpose. 

Successful organizational cultures take time to develop. Leaders must intentionally work towards develop a company culture that fosters innovation. Organizations that are able to adapt and innovate during this pandemic will be much stronger in the long run than those who attempt to maintain the status quo.

How can we help your organization develop a more innovative culture? We provide creative problem solving training, leadership coaching, and strategic planning services. Contact us to learn more.

References:

Coyle, D. (2018). The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. Bantam Books.

Sinek, S. (2009). Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Portfolio.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.

Effective Teams, Leadership, Strategy

What is your organization’s long term remote working strategy?

I recently provided a webinar through University of Evansville’s Center for the Advancement of Learning related to engaging remote workers. As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many are scrambling to accommodate a remote work environment for their employees. The adjustment can be particularly challenging for those organizations who have maintained a traditional office working environment. I encourage organizations to explore whether there are new opportunities for them as a result of the current remote working environment. 

Gallup has been tracking employee engagement since 2000. They categorize employees into the following groups (Harter, 4 February 2020):

  1. Engaged – “those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”
  2. Not engaged – “those who are psychologically unattached to their work and company and who put time, but not energy or passion, into their work”
  3. Actively disengaged – “those who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues”

Gallup reports a record percentage of employees at the engaged level for 2019: 35% (with 52% not engaged and 13% actively disengaged). According to Harter (4 February 2020), engaged employees: 

  • “produce substantially better outcomes
  • treat customers better and attract new ones
  • are more likely to remain with their organization than those who are less engaged.
  • Engaged employees are also healthier and less likely to experience burnout.”

According to the Remote Work Study (Zapier, 13 November 2019), 

  • “95 percent of U.S. knowledge workers want to work remotely”
  • “74 percent would be willing to quit a job to do so”
  • “57 percent” say the option to work remotely is one of the perks they’d most prefer to be offered by an employer.

I was surprised to see the incredibly high interest in remote working, and I think there will be continued desire for remote working after the pandemic. 

Gallup (Hickman & Robison, 24 January 2020) has linked the highest level of engagement to those who work remotely three to four days a week (60%-<80%) and work in the office one to two days a week (41% engaged, 48% not engaged, and 11% actively disengaged). It is important to note that employees who worked remotely all of the time had lower levels of engagement (30% engaged, 54% not engaged, and 16% actively disengaged), and these engagement numbers are similar to those who do not work remotely at all (30% engaged, 55% not engaged, and 15% actively disengaged). 

Based on the desire for employees to work remotely and the high levels of engagement that can result from a hybrid remote working environment (time spent working remotely and in a traditional office), organizations have the opportunity to reimagine their future working arrangements. 

Here are some items to consider regarding remote working:

  1. Are there cost savings opportunities to reduce office space?
  2. Will a remote working environment help us improve employee engagement?
  3. Will a remote work environment help us retain and attract talent?
  4. Are our leaders equipped with the necessary skills to successfully manage remote employees?
  5. What work activities can take place remotely and what needs to take place in person?
  6. Do we need to more fully explore ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) to clearly define outcomes for employees’ work?

As many organizations are developing a plan to return to the office, I recommend strategic discussions about the future of remote working in organizations. This is a great opportunity to gather input and make decisions that could have an impact on the future success of organizations. We are skilled facilitators who have helped organizations navigate complex problem solving. If you need help in this area, please contact us

References:

Harter, J. (2020, February 4). 4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in U.S. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/284180/factors-driving-record-high-employee-engagement.aspx

Hickman, A., & Robison, J, (24 January 2020). Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/283985/working-remotely-effective-gallup-research-says-yes.aspx

Zapier Editorial Team (13 November 2019). The Remote Work Report. Retrieved from https://zapier.com/blog/remote-work-report-by-zapier/

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization develop a planning process for long term success?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.