Meeting Mascots

As a consultant, I work with many different clients. Each client and even teams within a client have distinct personalities. The anthropologist in me loves observing and then adopting the culture of the teams with whom I work.
In one recent project, several weeks in, I was in a meeting where the discussion had started to drift off-agenda. One of the managers grabbed an Elmo doll and held it up, saying “Ok, I’ve got Elmo.” Everyone immediately stopped and a renewed focus swept the room, getting people back to topics relevant to the agenda.
As it turns out, that Elmo doll is the team’s Parking Lot mascot. All team members know that if they’re talking, and someone holds up Elmo, they need to shelve their discussion for a different time to allow the team to get back to the original purpose of the meeting. Elmo allowed the team to have a common vocabulary and a tool that gave everyone a role in ensuring that they followed good meeting practices.What about you? Would your team’s meetings be more effective if you had a mascot that was a little tongue-in-cheek but that all team members felt empowered to use?

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