Location, Location, Location!

Where do you hold your Forum meetings?  The meeting location is an important part of the overall experience of your Forum meeting, so it’s worth some thought.

Three most common venues

  • Rotate offices – many Forums rotate from one member’s office to another each month.  An advantage to this method is that everyone gets to see each other’s businesses, which provides perspective and is informative. The rule on this venue is that the member must be able to provide a suitable meeting space where doors can be closed and confidentiality can be maintained.  The hosting member should be sure their office staff knows not to interrupt the meeting for any reason.  Also, it is recommended that the hosting member does NOT give a presentation when they are hosting the meeting.  This is due to the psychological aspect of presenting in your own backyard – there is more of a risk that something might be overheard and the member may not be as open.
  • Central location – Some Forums select a central location that becomes the location for every meeting.  This option can be handy when the Forum members are geographically disbursed over a wide area and a central location works better for everyone.  It also works well when a particularly desirable meeting space is available to the Forum.  The location could be a member’s office, a hotel meeting room, a private room at a restaurant, or a professional meeting space.  Again, the facility must be able to provide a room where doors can be closed and confidentiality can be maintained.  Staff should be made aware that they should not open the door or interrupt the meeting for any reason when the doors are closed.
  • Rotate homes – Some Forums allow the hosting member to host at their home instead of their office.  This option provides a different view of the hosting member and it’s generally a more casual and more relaxed setting.  The main rule here is that nobody can be at home.  In regions of the world where there are shared family homes, this is not a feasible option.  Keep in mind that you may need to bring in a flip chart or A/V equipment, depending on the needs of the presenter and the activities that are planned for the meeting.

Alternative ideas

Want to mix it up?  Consider some of these alternative locations for a forum meeting. It’s kind of like a field trip, which can be both refreshing and informative!

  •  A large, recognized local business – arrange for a behind-the-scenes tour, have lunch with the CEO, and then conduct the Forum meeting in one of their conference rooms.
  • Sailboat – located near a lake or the water? Bring your boat shoes and sunscreen and enjoy a meeting on a sailboat or motorboat.
  • Museum, sports arena, concert hall or theater – arrange a private tour, then hold the Forum meeting in one of their meeting rooms.
  • Hospital – bring in a physician to talk about stress management, arrange for a couple of stress tests, then hold the meeting in one of the hospital meeting rooms.
  • Sponsor’s office – many sponsors are happy to provide meeting space in order to get the exposure.
  • Soup kitchen – Feel like mixing volunteer work and Forum?  The Forum could meet at a local soup kitchen, feed the homeless, and then meet at a nearby facility.
  • Children’s hospital – bring gifts to the kids, tour the facility, and meet in a hospital meeting room.

These types of alternative can provide a refreshing change of pace once or twice a year. Get creative!  One Forum went to the county jail, got a tour from the prison warden, and held their Forum meeting in an interrogation room.  Although your Forum may not want to go to jail, with a little creative brainstorming the possibilities are endless!

Keep in mind…

Regardless of the location you choose, be thoughtful about the meeting room itself.  Glass walls are NOT recommended as they can be distracting and diminish openness.  Be sure the room is large enough for people to sit comfortably.  Also, be sure the walls are soundproof so that outsiders can’t hear your conversation… and you don’t have to listen to theirs!  Finally, provide plenty of water for hydration throughout the meeting, and optionally provide soda and light snacks for breaks.

As with all aspects of Forum, it’s ultimately up to your Forum to decide how you want to handle the meeting location.  Discuss the options and consider mixing it up.  Give it a shot – and see how a change of location could spice up your Forum meetings!

Top Grading Your Forum

Before bringing a new member into their Forum permanently, Phil from Perth says they have a 3-month trial period. They vote at the end of the 3 months on whether the person can stay.  They stole their process from the book Top Grading, by Bradford Smart.

 

Does your Forum have a trial period?  Do you think that’s a smart idea?  Leave your comment below!

Do You Have a Celebrity in Your Forum?

In Forum, as in life, special consideration must sometimes be given to certain individuals, for one reason or another.  Doctors, attorneys and celebrities are the most common recipients of such special consideration.  For example, an attorney may be required by a judge to appear in court at the same time as the Forum meeting.  A physician may be required to attend to a critically ill patient on a moment’s notice.  And a celebrity may be on an extended tour that causes them to miss multiple meetings.  Each situation must be reviewed individually, but let’s start with a basic challenge that can emanate from these types of situations.

A Forum is intended to be a group of peers.  While diversity in the Forum is encouraged, members that require special handling can cause problems within the Forum.  These problems should be discussed openly with the entire Forum.  If special handling is not discussed, the health of the Forum is at risk.  If the rules are ignored for one member, it becomes difficult if not impossible to uphold the rules for other members.  Commitment is required of all members, regardless of profession, rank, or status, and it is important for each member, celebrity or not, to realize and accept this condition.

To deal with a celebrity member situation, plan to have a discussion with the entire Forum at an upcoming meeting.  This discussion should be led by the Moderator and the celebrity member should be notified of the discussion in advance, to prevent him or her from feeling blindsided by the discussion.  The ultimate goal is to identify the type of special handling required and if or how it can be integrated into the Forum in a fair and equitable manner.

Note that unique situations for celebrity members don’t always spell disaster.  Many Forums have worked around special member requirements and kept the Forum whole and healthy.  In fact, these situations can ultimately serve to be a benefit to the Forum.  But this can only happen when there is open, authentic communication about the subject.

One possible solution for a celebrity member is to make them an “honorary” member.  This means they don’t attend regular Forum meetings, but they can join the Forum’s social activities and attend an occasional meal before or after the regular meeting.  Perhaps the celebrity can attend a special meeting once a year where he or she gives a Presentation, and the rest of the Forum can gain knowledge from this “honorary” member.

As with all Forums, the members of the group must determine the purpose of the Forum and what brings value to the group.  Write a mission statement to clarify the purpose and ensure that decisions about membership (like celebrity members) enable the Forum to uphold the mission statement.

Kid Turns

 

A Forum in Nashville invented a new practice called Kid Turns.  They let one member’s child go to the office with another Forum member for the day. The purpose is to expose their children to business and entrepreneurship through the lens of a trusted friend.

Has your Forum ever considered this?  How did it turn out?  Leave your comments below!