How to Engage Artisans in Strategy Meetings
Meetings are mind-numbingly dull and boring.
Most of us have experienced this at some time or another but when you're an Artisan, the problems are multiplied tenfold.
Artisans or "SP" personalities are the temperament with a natural desire for freedom, a need for action, and a hedonistic drive to enjoy life. They're at home with the concrete tangibles, not the ideas, concepts and long-range focus required for strategy planning. They want to go for it now, not think about some ill-defined future.
How then, do you involve them in strategy meetings?
The good news is, it's fairly easy to turn a so-so meeting around so it's more engaging for Artisans. Here are five tips.
#1: Give them a task to do beforehand
Artisans are doers; they like to add value in concrete, practical ways. So, give them a task to prepare before the meeting, then ask them to lead the discussion when their topic comes up. Having the Artisan create an immediate result is a good way to make her feel personally invested in the meeting.
You can follow this strategy through to the end of the meeting to keep engagement levels high. If someone sees an obstacle or proposes an out-of-the box idea that seems impossible, for example, park the idea for this meeting - you're going the lose your Artisans if the meeting keeps wandering off track. Instead, have your Artisan tackle the problem, jump hurdles and do whatever it takes to make the idea a reality. Artisans are gifted at accomplishing an end, so task them with exploring the practicalities of an idea.
#2: Go somewhere different
Neon lights, boardroom tables and stodgy Powerpoint presentations aren't exactly an Artisan's first choice of work environment. These people have exceptionally keen senses and draw great inspiration from their surroundings. They will feel much more invested in a vibrant space with plenty of stimulation, and these environments likely will inspire their creativity, too.
In practical terms, this means shaking up your meeting venue every now and then. Think about having your strategy session in a park, a coffee shop, or ditch the chairs and stand up by a scribble board where people can write down their ideas. Getting out of the office can create a more dynamic atmosphere - which Artisans love - and creates a sense of urgency, meaning decisions get made quicker.
Artisans believe that variety is the spice of life, so don't hold your meetings in the same place twice.
#3: Ask them what they want
Artisans are motivated by freedom and a strong desire to act on their impulses. To truly engage them in meetings, ask them, "if you could design your dream strategy meeting, what would it look like?" Their answers will reveal their intrinsic motivations for attending the meetings - and the answers may surprise you.
Taking a high-level view, you can expect your Artisans to come up with the following:
- Clear goals: strategy should be aligned to real-life, practical goals with the aim of getting the team where it needs to go as quickly as possible. Lots of conceptual thinking, served up in the same way, will feel like a complete waste of the Artisan's time.
- Collaborative: Artisans like to share ideas with colleagues and discover fresh options that may have an impact on their lives.
- Purposeful: Artisans focus on mastering their action skills. They'd prefer an emphasis on specific tactics, not generalized mission statements.
- Fast paced: Set a time limit. Don't labor points. Get the brainstorming over with quickly so your Artisans can get on with putting ideas to the test.
- Worthwhile: First, identify the problem you wish to solve. If you can find no practical problem, then we don't have the meeting. For Artisans, it's that simple.
All this boils down to is one point - don't schedule pointless meetings. Cut the monologues and make every moment count.
#4: Use games to make the meeting fun and inspiring
Artisans are excitable, seek stimulation and trust their impulses. They want meetings to be fun and inspiring, not stodgy and repetitive. So, think of some ways to lighten the tone.
It's important to note here that "fun" doesn't mean you have to include lots of entertainment and silly games. To an Artisan, "fun" is something engaging, interactive and tactical. If you can find a way to incorporate elements from games into your strategy meetings, you may trick your Artisans into thinking in a way that's more long-termist, conceptual or hard to grasp - which let's face it, is the point of the strategy meeting.
"Gamifying" your meeting does have to be complicated or require tons of preparation. For example, you could ask participants to spot a certain word or phrase in your meeting presentation. The one who does it the fastest wins a prize. Artisans are very competitive. This strategy is a real attention-getter and good motivation for keeping the Artisan focused on brainstorming when their attention might otherwise turn to their phones.
Another idea is to have the team talk about strategy as if it literally were a game. Break long-range plans into 'levels' and allow participants to move onto the next level only when they've mastered the one before it. Or, have the Artisan use his tactical thinking skills to allocate specific levels of risk to a strategy proposal. Artisans are always scanning for opportunities to better their position, and should be able to find the action that brings the greatest success.
The sky is the limit when it comes to gamification. There are plenty of free resources on the internet that will give you some ideas specific to your situation.
#5: Give them tools
Artisans are right at home with tools and instruments and love working with their hands. One easy fix for a boring meeting is to get them doing something throughout. Consider having your Artisans:
- Hold the iPad and take minutes
- Manage the information distribution - they will enjoy moving around the room with a laser pointer
- Keep time - give them an egg timer
- Act as facilitator - give them a basketball and have them throw it to the person whose turn it is to speak or brainstorm next
- Crack down on tangent-talking by recording curve-balls for action later. Give them a police badge to really lighten the tone!
Artisans, more than any other type, stand a better chance of grasping complex topics when they're kinetically involved in the process, so look for ways to get physical.
Summing It Up
Artisans are notoriously difficult to engage in strategy meetings since they'd much rather focus on the here and now than some undefined aspiration for the future. But it only takes a few tweaks to create meetings that make a difference. Have your Artisans chime in on what meetings should look like, give them real-time, practical tasks to accomplish, switch up your meeting space from time to time, use games to increase engagement and "tool up" certain aspects of the meeting, and your Artisans will feel right at home.