A Magical Meeting Story from Eric Keck, an expert on leadership development, operational management, strategic planning, and municipal government management from Post Falls, Idaho.
Welcome to Magical Meetings Stories, a series where I chat with professional facilitators, meeting practitioners, leaders, and CEOs across industries about their meeting culture. We dive deep into a specific magical meeting they’ve run, including their approach to facilitation design, and their tips and tricks for running meetings where people thrive.
Today’s story is with Eric Keck, a leadership development expert and the Vice President of Customer Success at Resource Exploration (ResourceX).
I spoke with Eric about the Program Insights meeting, the reason behind it, and his proudest moments from the meeting.
Small Changes, Bigger Impact
Eric designed his Program Insights meeting to help the local government in Canada change how they provide their services. In his work as the VP of customer success at ResourceX, Eric works to encourage the education, local government, and healthcare industries to adopt Priority Based Budgeting (PBB). With their software, ResourceX helps their clients put PBB data to use, reallocate funds for their organizations and communities, and free up resources.
True to its name, a Program Insights meeting happens after the client generates a certain set of data. The purpose of this insights workshop is to gather the different data points and determine what the information is saying. Team members are allowed to analyze the data and determine what next steps to take to improve their programs or services and how best to go about it.
In this magical Program Insights meeting, Eric focused his efforts on tackling his client’s challenges such as budget gaps, expenses that exceeded their revenues, a lack of equity on services and programs, and accessibility to the community residents.
Eric’s goals in this particular Program Insights meeting included:
- Focusing on small changes
- Aligning with big picture goals
- Identifying ways to save more money
- Reallocating these funds to different services or programs
Let’s take a closer look at Eric’s process to learn what made this meeting magical.
In a Program Insights meeting, the main deliverable is to identify actionable steps after reviewing key insights.
- Be present and participate
- Innovate the current services or products
In this meeting, the facilitator will select the following:
- Three two-hour sessions
- Employees and staff
- Guides for breakout rooms
- Session Lab
- Budgeting Software
- Gain insights and identify solutions to financial challenges
- Select actionable next steps
This particular meeting was attended by 40 participants from various departments of the City of East Moline. All attendees were department directors and managers.
Plan the Workshop
- Breakout Groups
- Takeaways and Next Steps
Preparation: Design the meeting in session lab
In a Program Insights meeting, the goal is to innovate, break down barriers between departments, and create actionable steps for the future. The facilitator works with their team to articulate the number of services they provide, cost the programs, analyze the data, and score them against pre-established criteria.
Eric began the meeting with a question, “How could you make a change to a program or service that’s going to be beneficial in the long run?”
To answer this question, Eric prioritized collaboration in his meetings to stimulate cross-departmental communication. Eric then launched into the breakout session of the meeting to encourage diverse engagement and to discourage groupthink.
Facilitators will divide participants into breakout groups.
Eric began this phase of the meeting by employing components of design methodology to the breakout session. Breaking into groups helped to ensure that every voice was heard and to promote psychological safety in the meetings. By grouping the participants randomly and applying a user-centric, human-first approach to the process, Eric increased ideation and encouraged curiosity amongst participants.
Takeaways and Next Steps
In the final phase of the meeting, facilitators will identify actionable next steps and review the participants’ takeaways.
Eric noted how the Program Insights’ meeting structure provided a space for team members to be heard. In a space that promotes human-centered thinking, these sessions zero in on the thoughts and feelings of the individual in addition to the changes that need to be made.
As the final Program Insights session came to a close, Eric noted an incredible response from a long-standing employee:
“I’ve been working for this organization for 26 years and this is the first time that I’ve really felt valued in the organization and I really felt like I was heard. And I had an opportunity to participate in the direction of the organization.”
An Epiphany of Empathy
Throughout our discussion, Eric noted how the facilitation training with Voltage Control impacted him. Learning how to better engage participants, ideate effectively, and seamlessly facilitate design thinking sessions resulted in a new facilitation prowess that makes each Program Insights meeting possible.
With these skills, Eric now makes it a point to prioritize empathy in every environment as he works to drive engagement throughout each session. In his final East Moline session, he shares a story of the most powerful moment in the meeting, in which the city manager experienced an epiphany:
“He said, ‘I’m sorry. I now have learned a lesson to engage people more broadly and listen more clearly.’
And for me, that couldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have designed this meeting from principles that I learned from Voltage Control. And so, that was a very, very powerful moment.”
Working with data provides facilitators like Eric with empirical proof of impact. As Eric shared his final thoughts on the meeting, he pointed out how this people-first mentality allows others to have their voices heard, allowing them to speak up.
“I’m proud that I was able to…allow for an opportunity for people to…have the option to speak up and have their voices heard, and participate in a hands-on fashion with programs and service changes that are going to be impacting not only their departments but their end-users as well.”
Do you have your own Magical Meeting Story to tell?
We’d love to hear your wizardry! Share how you are creating magical moments in your work below.