How can you use meetings to activate and even shift the values of your organisation?

Gatherings in our workplaces serve many purposes. Meetings are a typical category of gathering, and often follow a format that communicates what is important and how things are done. Each meeting reinforces the values, mindsets and beliefs held implicitly by your organisation. Unfortunately, they may or may not be the ones you espouse.

What if you reimagined the purpose of your meetings and gatherings?

I am reading Priya Parker’s awesome book, “The Art of Gathering.” She describes the importance of consciously considering the purpose of every gathering so that the form delivers to that purpose. 

As an example, she describes how New York Times editor Dean Baquet, re-assessed the need for, and purpose of, the traditional Page One meeting. He needed to shift the way things were done, including the mindsets and values of the journalists, to respond to the digitisation of media. Page One in print was less important than what the best stories were, and the meetings which determine the Page One content, also needed to morph dramatically. 

A significant change he made was how the meeting was run. Instead of starting with pitches, it started with an audience report about what stories attracted the most views, and other audience statistics. It also took place in a more casual space on a different floor. Further, editors were asked what they were working on, what readers wanted to know, and when articles could be posted, rather than waiting for the 3pm print run. 

Focusing on the readers and timeliness, rather than what the editors thought was the news, and the print schedule, was a big shift. Importantly, changes were made gradually, the new forms signalled new values, and everything was communicated clearly, with transparency of the reasons. 

What this case study highlights for us (please read more in Priya Parker’s book) is that daily gatherings in our workplaces, such as meetings, birthdays, Town Halls and check-ins, are powerful tools for forming and adjusting culture.

What needs to shift in your organisation?

In the new context of work we find ourselves in, values like inclusion and belonging, diversity and equity, sustainability and wellbeing, are recognised as deeply important. As a result the gathering norms of our organisations also need to shift, to cultivate these mindsets and values.

You may also resonate with some of these growing need:

  • the need to work at a different pace and be more nimble
  • the need for greater autonomy, trust and risk-taking
  • the need to embrace diverse of thought and consider alternative perspectives
  • the need to develop critical thinking skills and moral imagination
  • the need to shift from sales targets to meeting customer interests
  • the need to collaborate virtually
  • the need to deeply value team member contributions
  • the need to emphasise wellbeing and mental health
  • the need to consider broader social and environmental stakeholders

What values and mindsets are your gatherings reinforcing?

For you and your workplace, think about the way your meetings and gatherings are designed currently.

  • How are they designed?
  • Where are they?
  • Who runs them? Who comes? How are people included?
  • How do they start and finish?
  • What are the key messages communicated?
  • What purpose are they actually serving?
  • What mindsets and values are they currently developing and reinforcing?

What NEW values and mindsets can you develop through your gatherings?

Now consider, how your meetings and gatherings can be designed to cultivate new values and mindsets you need (or even consciously activate the ones you already have).

  • What is the purpose of your meetings and gatherings?
  • What values and mindsets do you need to grow and develop?
  • How might your meetings and gatherings be reframed and redesigned to powerfully activate the values and mindsets for this new era we find ourselves in?

The form that our workplaces take is the culmination of the values, mindsets, beliefs, and purposes deeply held by the people inside our organisations, and in response to our contexts. When times and needs change, so do our values, and as a result, so do the forms our workplaces need to take.


Please get in touch with me to discuss re-imagining and re-designing the purpose of your gatherings, to reinforce and develop the mindsets and values your workplace needs in this new era.