While technology moves at or near the speed of light, the human condition is not so fast and is still ruled by tribal patterning found in our DNA. In spite of our ability to be instantly connected to anyone, anywhere, any time — our tribal needs still prevail and this perhaps is seen most clearly in how we gather as a community. These instincts are both primal and tribal. We still feel the need to sit around the lodge fire and share our stories, adventures and experiences. These acts of sharing are patterned on common tribal patterns.
The power of the Vistage experience is predicated on the tribal need of its members to come together in face-to-face time and place or in meetings. All meetings contain some basic rituals: opening, middle and end. The more that these rituals are developed and nurtured, the better the tribe is able to communicate, share and support one another.
In many Vistage groups, a common opening ritual is a review of “significant events” or a flip chart sign-in. Middle rituals often include guest speakers, key performance indicator reviews, executive sessions and more. However, less developed and equally important, are closing rituals.
To anchor a good meeting and make it memorable in the minds of members a good closing ritual is important. Here is one example:
During the last 10-15 minutes of the meeting, have each of the members talk about three things: What I Gave, What I Got, and What I Appreciate. Here are some additional thoughts about each category.
What I Gave
Vistage is not a spectator sport. When we ask our members to declare what they have given, it anchors for them an expectation of contribution to all of the other members. It is often the most difficult question to answer. Chairs should encourage their members to dig deeper than surface answers like, “My attendance”, “I participated” or “I gave a few opinions” Contribution to other members and the group is at the heart of the Vistage process.
What I Got
This anchors take home value. It is a way to verbalize the value of the time a member spends at the meeting. Again, a Chairs encouragement of deeper level reflections adds to the value of this piece. Instead of, “I got some good ideas”, the Chair may initially help the member by asking the group, “What did you see that John got out of today’s meeting”? (As with all new activities, it is important for the Chair to role model, give examples, encourage and support. Later, the group will start to help and encourage one another on their own.
What I Appreciate
What gets appreciated also gets anchored in repetition. Calling attention to the positive experiences of members invites them to focus on creating those experiences for the future. This part of the ritual is best left as an “in the moment” experience without comment or coaching.
When Give, Gave and Appreciate are put together, they form a powerful closing ritual. This and other strong closing rituals help to anchor a meeting experience and may in turn help to develop longer, stronger membership retention. Experiment with this and enjoy creating or adapting your own style. Remember, it’s part of your tribal patterning.