We are delighted by the inventiveness of entrepreneurs who have been able to launch pop-up retail stores and restaurants that appear instantaneously and serve a distinct niche for a limited time. The idea that an entire entity can be created in a flash to serve a short-term need is just what the social sector needs for coalitions or complex meetings. We can leverage this innovation by using ground rules or team charters to create pop-up cultures that quickly establish a group’s norms.
One of the fundamentals many meetings, particularly coalition meetings, lack is a shared culture. Individuals have conflicting expectations and ideas about appropriate behavior. Like a pop-up store, ground rules or a team charter can help instantly create structure by explicitly laying out the guidelines under which the group members want to operate.
- Ground rules can be very simple and helpful in settings like strategic planning retreats – use “ditto” when you share the same feelings instead of rehashing an argument with different words; allow people to complete their thoughts before interjecting; or place tangential conversations in the “parking lot” to discuss later.
- Team charters are similar, but offer more detail, and are particularly useful for groups that meet frequently over a longer period of time. Creating a team charter forces coalitions to agree on things like how it will approach conflict or hold members accountable for results. While it is ideal to create a team charter at the beginning of projects, it can be done at any point to reset or establish the group’s norms. The process of developing a charter should involve all core members over one to two hours. Team charters have been highly effective in many teams, including my own while I was an MBA student at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.
Many of us who work in the social sector have attended meetings that are long, pertain to complicated issues or involve individuals/agencies with diverse points of view. These circumstances have led many a meeting astray, and establishing ground rules or a team charter can help increase accountability and get the work done. If you have used other tools or have great ground rule ideas, please share them with us! Stay tuned for our blog next week when we ask “Are You Board Ready?”