Category Archives: Teamwork

Open Partner Meeting: What’s Your Practice?

The Structure & Process Partner Meeting is one of our favourite formats for joyful, meaningful collaboration.

The main ingredients have remained mostly the same for the past few years: an agile agenda, a dedicated meeting facilitator, clarity on work modes, space and time for personal exchange, the pile of success, good food… – you can find details about all these elements here.

More recently, we have been increasingly inviting external guests, which lead to Open Partner Meetings: In these, we collaborate with clients, colleagues, applicants, friends and other interested (and interesting!) people.

During the last Open Partner Meeting (Feb 27 – March 2) in Dresden, another element emerged in the form of a question:

What is our practice?

practice /ˈpraktɪs/ noun

  1. The actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.
  2. The customary, habitual, or expected procedure or way of doing of something.
  3. Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. (Source)

We noticed that the practices at Structure & Process can basically be summarised in three categories: personal organization/productivity, community building and governance.

Scribbles & notes about our practices

Our personal productivity practices enable us to do good work in the first place: host yourself first, to make yourself available for collaboration.

Then we come together and form a community: We build personal relationships and discover our shared interests as the basis for co-creation. We refine our purpose as an organisation, grounded in community.

And then, to function smoothly as collaborators, we build governance systems/practices that allow us to orchestrate and focus our efforts.

Here is how some of our practices showed up at the last Open Partner Meeting:

Personal Organisation

  • “What do I need?” – Our favourite starting point for solving problems and getting stuff done. Turns out that asking this question is a practice in and of itself. The answers become part of the agenda.
    We ask “What do I need?” (or, when facilitated: “what do you need?”), not: “what do we need? What should we do?” We make our work personal.

  • Capture, process, do – whenever a meeting or session leads to actionable items, the habit is to capture those items, process them to a place that makes sense (personal todo list, shared Trello board) and then do it when the time is right. Things don’t get lost, and action happens at the right place and time.
    Knowing that you and your partners run on some version of this system builds trust and allows being present in the moment.
Capturing the outline of Open Partner Meeting

Community Building

Check-in Circle
  • Circles – every morning we check in together as one coherent group of individuals. At the end of the day we check out again, sharing whatever moves us at that particular time.
  • We prioritize relationships and quality of life – during Partner Meetings there’s plenty of time for food, music and good conversation :-)

Governance:

  • Whenever we go into planning mode (“what is the next thing to do now?”) there is no consensus building on the agenda point that everyone wants to do, but rather taking the initiative to host a session and then seeing who shows up (open-space-style).

  • We are very clear on our individual roles and accountabilities, which makes task assignment easy, efficient and relaxed.
  • One of our Holacratic Governance Meetings took place during this week. Guests could watch and ask questions about the process afterwards.

Practice with us!

The next Open Partner Meeting will happen on October 24-26 2017, again in Dresden. Our guests typically get more clarity on their questions related to organisational development, collaboration, personal path in business/life and generally have a good time… They explore their own projects, or collaborating with Structure & Process. Some have found jobs and love! ;-)

You are most welcome! (Sign up to our newsletter to receive an invite in time!)

Now we’d like to hear from you…

  • What is the practice that informs your work?
  • What do you find yourself doing again and again?
  • How do you apply the ideas and theories that guide your work in practice?

Let us know in the comments!

Impressions from our first Open Partner Meeting

openpartnermeeting

Structure & Process’ “Partner Meetings” are bimonthly get-togethers of the team of Structure & Process. From being “internal meetings” originally, they have evolved to include clients, prospects and business partners.

In November 2016, we took the next step and opened up our structure even further, showing what was “internal” to clients, and what was “client-only” to business partners and our wider network. We also invited our community to contribute to and become part of the meeting.

It turned out to be a wonderful format for doing joyful, inspired and effective work – so much so that we’re doing it again this February! View all the details here (in German).

Every Partner Meeting is different, but the rest of this post is meant to give you an idea of what it can look like…

DAY 1

Monday morning.

The place:

galerie

Welcome:

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People start to work: Conversation between Rob and Martina about the future of Partner Meetings, their sustainability, probable profitability and their integration into the structure.

popleworking1

Kind of a tradition at Partner Meetings: Lunch at an Asian place.

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More people show up, the team is almost complete – setting up the space.

DAY 2

After arriving, settling in and putting up the space, the Open Partner Meeting starts with a check-in round:

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Agenda Building:

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Martina calls for a session about Organisational Purpose Shift:

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Capture by Lara

The next session for most people is about Partner Community and Applicant Processes  –exploring whether a membership system is an option to develop.

anikasnotiz_partnercommunity
Capture by Anika

Very closely related is the development of Partner Meetings as a (core) product of Structure & Process:

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The first guests arrive: Luca and Julia from Reinblau join our Meeting. They are clients in a consulting project from Martina, Lara and Rainer.

After lunch for some participants and a nice walk along the Elbe for the others – the meeting resumes with a Governance Meeting of the GCC. This is a good observing and learning opportunity for some of our guests. Lara explains procedures and gives background information. The minutes of that meeting can be found right here in our Glassfrog.

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More guests have arrived: Tobias already joined our last Partner Meeting. He was a coaching client of Martina’s for a while and is interested in our work. Nora is a consultant and knows Rainer and Martina. She came all the way from Bratislava to join.

Rainer and Nora catching up:

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Lara prepares the check-out round for the day:

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DAY 3

New guests have arrived: We welcome Anja and Gregor. The third day starts with planning mode again. Most of the people decide on an introduction to Teal from Nora.

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The next session is hosted by Rainer who has a business idea he wants to develop. His basic assumption is that there is not enough consulting competence in clients’ companies. They are consulted by us, but they need to consult with their clients as well. This  is enforced when transformation processes within the company affect their clients, too.

3_rainer_consultingcompetence

In a second session in the afternoon interested people start to get into operational details for a consulting workshop offer that would increase consulting competences with clients.

3_rainer_consultingcompetence2

Later, Rainer offers a session in Action Learning:

Day 3 closes with a check-out round and some reflections of the core Structure & Process team.

Day 4

On day 4 more Holacracy meetings take place, where some of the learnings from this Partner Meeting are already being captured into the organisation’s governance records:

Lara gives a mini-workshop on her specialty: drawing and graphic facilitation.

After 4 full days our co-created graphic overview shows the richness of the meeting and what came out of it.

Partner Meetings are one of the core activities of Structure & Process and they embody our way of working. Please join one of the next ones to experience it for yourself!

Shoutout to Annette Mehlhoop who created the first version of this post!

Successful Projects with Trello

At Structure & Process we value a good online infrastructure for collaboration. Since we often work together virtually, the online environment is important for us. We need good tools that help us get stuff done and are enjoyable to use at the same time.

We think we’ve got this figured out pretty well and we always like to share our practices. And so today we’ll show you how we use Trello as our main tool for online collaboration on projects and how it serves as our digital office.

The goal? To show you how to use Trello to make your project successful!

What is Trello?

Trello is an online tool, which you can use in your browser or as an app for mobile devices. It’s main purpose is organising information in a visual and flexible way. It can be used for organising stuff individually and organising work as a team or company. In this blogpost we’ll focus on using Trello for collaboration.

IMG_1616

What’s so great about it?

There are probably a few hundred applications and tools out there that can be used to organise and coordinate work. Here are some of the reasons why we are sticking to Trello:

It’s unlimited

Working with Trello is like having a huge office with a lot of walls, unlimited sticky notes, coloured pens, markers and everything else you need to create organised overviews.

Once your project or business gets bigger, moving to a new office is a lot of work. Opening a new board in Trello, however, is a breeze. As you grow, Trello can grow alongside of you.

Continue reading Successful Projects with Trello

Not having to worry about expectations…

… is one of the aspects I enjoy most, being part of a team that runs on Holacracy.

you don’t have to worry about the implicit expectations or “shoulds” of others; instead, you can just show up, be yourself, and do your best within your roles, trusting that the process will catch and integrate any tensions that result. (Brian Robertson)

It is not necessary to worry about

  • what others will think or feel about my work
  • wether it will be “enough”
  • what others may think or feel about my process
  • if I should have done things differently.

Or so is the theory.

In practise, I still stress out a lot over being “a good leader”, a good steward of the team, a good Lead Link of our Holacracy Circles.

I try my best. I work in the best way I can and let the rest flow through the Holacracy process: it allows and encourages anyone to come up with anything that could be improved (from that person’s perspective). It can then be processed constructively together and codified in our governance records, the standards by which we work together (more on how our company is set up here).

Our conversations are mostly impersonal: they are usually about the work, not about the specific way in which a person is doing their work. The conversations happen between role holders for the benefit of the organisation. It is about how the work should be done, not about how I am or have been doing the work.

Except when it actually is about personal performance: When a person is clearly not doing their job according to the agreed-on principles, our process also shows it very clearly and opens up a conversation about what can be done (should the job be reassigned to someone else? Does the person holding the role need more support?). This makes the conversation about changing the person’s job or reassigning their roles much easier than if it were mixed up with a conversation about the structure of the work.

Having said all that, we do run into personal conflicts too. I hope that people will speak up, and address me personally when I messed up, or that they process it through Holacracy, so that we can all learn collectively, and build structure that may prevent future conflicts.

Partner Meetings at Structure & Process

The Team at Structure & Process works from multiple locations. And while our online infrastructure (based on Slack and Trello) is great, from time to time we need to get together to figure things out in person, have some fun, and work on current projects in just one place. We call these gatherings Partner Meetings.

What are the defining characteristics of our Partner Meetings?

  • We have an Agile Agenda: Everyone can add items at any time, and we decide together in which order the items are processed.
  • The meeting has a facilitator. They are elected in the beginning and help the team to navigate through all agenda items.
  • There are scheduled unscheduled times during partner meetings: These allow space for personal exchange and fun together.
  • We work a lot. In those 2-4 days everybody focuses on Structure & Process work intensely, we dive into passionate collaboration.
  • During the meeting there is good food. Whether it is self-made or our favourite Asian food (when we meet in Düsseldorf), it is always delicious. We take ample time for lunch and other breaks.
  • Guests are invited. Besides the Team of Structure & Process, we usually have at least one guest at Partner Meetings: these can be external collaboration partners or candidates who are in the process of deciding whether to join us.
  • The Pile of Success collects all our processed agenda cards – a tangible symbol of our accomplishments in the meeting. We burn the pile ritually to celebrate our successful meeting at the end.

Here are some impressions of our last Partner Meeting in Düsseldorf in September.

Continue reading Partner Meetings at Structure & Process