Extraordinary Meetings in Extraordinary Times

Updated: Jun 24

By Catherine Hennessy


We are launching Extraordinary Meetings in Extraordinary Times as a response to the unique situation the world finds itself in.

It's truly been an extraordinary few months, I recognise that I’ve been very fortunate through it. There have been unexpected blessings: a short-term guest who, 90 days in has become a part of the family, discovering the discipline of stepping away from the laptop, upping my table tennis skills and having the time to sort out stuff that’s needed doing for ages.

It’s also taken me into areas of worry and major discomfort: stupidly long work days and times when I’ve asked myself why on earth I approach some things the way I do. It’s made me take risks, reflect and learn a whole lot about effective virtual team working.

I’ve had some absolutely brilliant conversations along the way … speaking with a Senior Leader a while back she described working virtually as like being forced from a 3D to 2D world,a place where connections are flatter and monochrome instead of technicolour, the boundaries between home and work blurred.It struck a massive chord with me and made me challenge and stretch my own practice to ramp up the humanity in meetings, bring the colour back and create meaningful, effective connection even when people aren’t physically together.

In speaking with different teams I’ve heard how, without any directive, people have reconnected with pastimes that they knew were fundamentally important but had somehow slipped out of everyday reach – time outdoors, a focus on health, quality time with family… and I’m hearing a trend of people saying that they are determined to benefit from having tapped in to that innate wisdom. It seems that for many, as we became more ‘successful’ from a career point of view, we ‘sold off’ more of ourselves and now, having had the time to regroup, we know more about what we truly need and are determined to get the balance right going forward.

Last week during a virtual meeting I facilitated, a leader painted a picture (literally as well as metaphorically) of a pre and post Covid-19 world. Pre was grey and hum drum – and post was full of colour and freedom. The grey was shown as people in cars driving unquestioningly towards their place of work and the post showed a team with a global reach not constrained by proximity to the office. That team realised that their thinking about their available talent pool had been blown wide open - there’s a whole world out there.

Norms are being questioned - extraordinary times. We are primed for evolution, seems to me that it’s time to make some conscious choices if the potential in this moment is to be grabbed with both hands.



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