Earlier generations remember where they were during the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, JFK’s assassination, and 9/11. All of us will remember the COVID-19 Pandemic. These extraordinary times call for new modes of engagement with our forums, including these possibilities:
- Meet more frequently but for a shorter time. Some forums are meeting every week for an hour. Others are meeting for two hours every other week. Still others are calling emergency meetings as needed.
- Continue to emphasize the importance of being there for each other, but agree to meet even if you can’t have 100% attendance. Evolving needs mean that commitments are less certain than in more stable times.
- Focus updates on M.I.T. – the Most Important Things on members’ minds, on which they think the forum can offer some support, ideas or experience. Get to the essence quickly, identifying 3-5 word headlines such as “Messaging to employees,” “supporting elderly parents,” or “conserving cash.” Combine any similar MITs into a single topic.
- At the moderator’s discretion, or with member input via the chat function, identify the most urgent and important topics
- Instead of longer, traditional presentations/explorations, try to allow time to address multiple topics, asking members to make short and concise requests for:
- Feedback on any ideas/actions they are considering
- “I Notice…” feedback
- Connections and leads
- “If you were in my shoes…” feedback
- Opportunity to vent or emote (no feedback)
- Be efficient. Everyone in the forum can offer feedback once about the topic. No repeating; instead say “plus one” to another person’s thoughts. Avoid tangents. The moderator can call “tangent alert” to refocus on the topic at hand.
- Encourage one-on-one, out-of-meeting connections to address or expand on what can be covered in shorter, virtual meetings.
Acknowledgment: Thank you to YPO and HBS facilitator Michael Bloch from whose work this blog post is adapted. For more details, see Michael’s full “wartime forum” agenda.