by John Hibble
The MG Taylor approach is complex and as with any complex system there are a number of interacting elements which need to come together well to make the system as a whole function.
However there are a number of key elements which define the approach:
- Alignment of a sponsor team
- Having the right purpose
- Identifying the right participants
- Curating and creating the right inputs
- Having the right environment
Multiple cycles of thinking and working facilitate learning and improvement of our ideas and work output. As we get closer to an event our event design, required participants, inputs and assignment writing comes into higher resolution. Getting something down on paper helps us to externalise and model our thinking, to test our ideas and get valuable feedback for the next iteration.
Alignment of a sponsor team
For all of our events we mobilise a ‘sponsor team’. The purpose of the sponsor team is to co-design all aspects of the event and to represent and drive the agenda for which the event has been created. Our experience has shown time and time again that if you can’t get alignment amongst this group on key elements of an event such as purpose, areas of focus, event design and participants then your chances of getting a larger group aligned at the actual event are much slimmer.
The key mechanism by which we build this alignment is via our sponsor meeting process. For a given event we will have 3-5 sponsor meetings which are 60-90 mins each. For each event we have a defined agenda which will typically encompass the following for the event:
- Event scope, objectives, deliverables and givens
- Event design
- Event participants
- Event inputs (content, information)
- Event logistics
These topics are actively worked on and iterated in multiple sponsor meetings.
Having the right purpose
The entire collaboration for an event relies on having clarity of purpose.
When we say purpose we refer to the following:
- Event objectives
- Event deliverables
- Event scope
- Event givens
Shared understanding and alignment around these four things informs everything else – design, participants, inputs and assignment writing. Ultimately it shapes the conversation that we need to design and facilitate.
The event objectives and deliverables are a key sanity test for our event design – will this design result in the deliverables we need to ship?
Choosing the right participants
Not having the right people in the room should not be a barrier to collaboration and achieving the event purpose. For our events, participants are selected and invited rather than by open invite.
Three concepts inform our approach to selecting participants:
- No business tourists: each participant must be able to contribute to the purpose of the session.
- Minimum viable collaboration: what is the minimum number of participants we can have to achieve the purpose of the session?
- R.A.P.I.D decision making roles (by Bain & Company): ensuring that we have representation and clarity over Recommenders, Approvers, Performers, Inputters and Decision makers. More on this in frameworks.
Curating and creating the right inputs
Not having the right information or facts available should not be a barrier to collaboration and achieving our purpose. We spend a lot of time in the lead up to an event curating and creating inputs which directly support the work to be done, decisions to be made and conversations to be had.
There are many different types of inputs, for example:
- External research
- External benchmarking
- Internal reports & analysis
- Presentations from subject matter experts
Inputs can be presented in different modalities and media, for example:
- Chatroom presentations
- On tablets
Creating the right environment
There is an expression in MG Taylor practice that ‘everything speaks’. The environment is like body language in that it sends direct and indirect cues about our values and of expected behaviour. We dedicate a specific person and specific time towards designing a space that facilitates the required activity, thought and behaviour for an event. This manifests itself in the following ways:
- The graphic theming of the space i.e. signage, name tags, presentation templates
- The physical layout of moveable whiteboard walls and the arrangement of chairs
Similar to inputs and participants, environment should not present an obstacle to work.