8 tips for greater impact in meetings

From WeAreTheyCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

Like a lot of people, you probably spend a lot of time in meetings (face to face or virtual), right?

Meetings can be great, but they can also be a frustrating experience; time-consuming and not productive enough. We’ve probably all experienced that.

Ultimately, we can’t control what others do, we only have full control of our own contribution to those meetings.

So, with that in mind, what can you do to make the most of the meetings you’re in, to have the impact you want, thereby making them as productive and useful as possible?

Here are 8 quick meeting impact tips!

  1. How do you want to be?

Before going into a meeting, don’t just think about what you are going to do or say. Think also about how you want to be in that meeting. Ask yourself: what impact do I want to have? Spend time preparing your impact in advance by thinking both about what to do and how to be.

2. Have your impact radar out.

Work out what effect you are having on those around you, stop and take a look around you. How do you make people feel and react? Then you can change your approach if you need to get a different result.

3. Be a keen observer.

Observe without demonstrating any judgement, just aim to understand what is going on around you. By doing this you become better at working out what people need and how to communicate effectively with them

4. Be intentional.

Be intentional about your reactions and responses, don’t let your “autopilot” run you and your responses. Choose with care and intention.

5. Ask questions.

You don’t have to have all the answers. Better questions lead to better answers, so inject questions to progress conversations (that are stuck) and find answers

6. Share openly.

Generously share relevant information with others, this can encourage others to be generous too and you will all gain more. Avoid just repeating what others have already said.

7. Stay focused.

Remember the purpose of the meeting and stay focused on driving towards to outcomes agreed. If the conversations drift off topic, respectfully suggest parking those conversations for another time.

8. Honour people’s time.

Be on time for meetings. If you’re running the meeting – start on time and manage the agenda so you can finish on time.

Collective Intelligence = Human + Artificial Intelligence

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

In our last blog post, we talked about the power of bringing people together to multiply intelligence, creating smarter teams and smarter organisations.

What were your thoughts on that? Have you found ways where you can create opportunities for being smarter together at work, and beyond? If so, please practice collective intelligence by sharing your comments below as it can help trigger ideas for others too. Thank you!

You see, what every organisation and every leader need to ask themselves is this:

How can we unlock more of our collective intelligence?

And with that in mind, let’s continue our exploration of Collective Intelligence by turning to the subject of Artificial Intelligence.

Pretty much everyone talks about AI now.

What’s going on where you work, has your organisation started their AI journey?

Are you talking about it, are you exploring how AI can work for you?

It’s certainly true that AI is here to stay and that we all need to embrace AI or be left behind.

And we definitely think there are many exciting opportunities that come with AI – to be able to automate repetitive work, to free up people’s time to do more enjoyable tasks, to create solutions in all industries that we could previously only dream of.

As you probably know, artificial intelligence doesn’t mean that machines can think (not yet at least), it just means that they are doing something that seems intelligent – like recognizing patterns in data and predicting outcomes.

There are of course also big question marks around AI, such as how to ensure ethical practices through the creation of ethical and non-biased algorithms. These discussions will continue to evolve as AI evolves. But that’s not what we wanted to talk about today (we’ll come back to that in a future blog post).


“Some people call this artificial intelligence,

but the reality is this technology will enhance us.

So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence.”

Ginni Rometty


Just as Collective Intelligence is human + human (as discussed in the previous post), it’s also human + artificial. Intelligence is multiplied when the two forms of intelligence are brought together, contributing through their unique intelligence strengths.

Sometime in the (distant) future, machines are expected to be able to do anything humans do, but we are still a long way away from that scenario. There are still things that humans are better at than machines, and there are things that machines are better at than machines. And this gives us food for thought on how the two forms of intelligence can contribute to great outcomes – together.

HUMANS are currently better at

  • Emotion and empathy
  • Creative thinking
  • Planning and executing a plan
  • Consciousness

MACHINES are currently better at

  • Storing large amounts of data
  • Processing and analysing large amounts of data
  • Pattern recognition (if there is enough data)

Looking at those two lists of human and artificial strengths, what does that tell us?

Well, for example, that if we can use machines to process and analyse large amounts of data, we can free up time and get on with the creative thinking process, in collaboration with other people. We are getting the best of two worlds; we are making use of unique human and artificial strengths. We can be smarter together, creating more intelligent organisations.

Where have you seen examples of human + artificial intelligence creating more intelligent organisation? And what other opportunities do you think there could be for smarter teams and organisations, keeping in mind that the human to human interactions are crucial and set the tone for everything we do?

3 Factors of Collective Intelligence

From WeAreTheCity’s Futue Leader’s Blog

Smarter together. It has a great ring to it, doesn’t it?

To be smarter together, to achieve more together.

Because everyone is best at something, and no one is best at everything.

Collective Intelligence is bringing intelligence together; bringing different ideas, experience and characters together – to create better ideas, solutions and results. It’s about intelligent collaboration and teamwork, where 1+1 can equal so much more that 2!


Talent wins games,

but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

Michael Jordan


Collective intelligence is when intelligence meets intelligence and is multiplied.

And we can all play a role in making that happen – especially as a leader. In fact, as a leader, it’s part of our job. By creating collective intelligence we are making our organisations more intelligent.

An interesting study carried out by a group of scientists at MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, led by Professor Thomas W Malone, found that just putting smart people together doesn’t necessarily make the group smarter. Looking at a number of factors identified in earlier research, they found that the groups that had the highest collective intelligence had the following three factors; social perceptiveness, equal participation and a higher proportion of women. The higher proportion of women in the group was statistically mostly explained by the measure of social perceptiveness.

Collective Intelligence Study

Simply put – the more people are able to perceive what’s going on around them (and how others are feeling) and have everyone contribute equally to conversations (not letting a few people dominate) are more collectively intelligent than other groups.

Interesting research. You can read more about it here.

Look around you in your team – are you encouraging social perceptiveness and equal participation? What else could you do to further develop/promote those skills and habits in your team? And what would that do to your results as a team? What happens when we are smarter together?

Now there’s another interesting dimension to Collective Intelligence – and that’s when we combine human and artificial intelligence – and that’s what next week’s Future Leaders Blog will be about. See you then!

Ready to choose?

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.

J. K. Rowling

I want….What do you really want?

A new job? A better relationship? A dog? A new car? To be happy? To be successful? To sleep better at night? To lose weight? To read a book a week?

Whatever it is, now try saying “I choose….” and whatever it is that you said you want.

It feels different, right?

Many people experience that the word “choose” is so much more powerful. It’s a real indication of commitment to say that you choose something. Maybe, when you said, “I choose….” you realised that you didn’t want it so much that you would actively choose it. Or maybe you felt very strongly about it and could feel your determination grow and deepen by the choice you expressed.

We sometimes walk through life wishing we had many things, but would we really choose them all? Probably not. The key to powerful self-leadership is our ability at any given time to make conscious choices.

Make choices to empower yourself

Dean Ornish

So, think about it – what choices are you making? And if you REALLY want something, will you make the powerful CHOICE of actually going for it?

It’s your choice. Remember, you’re more powerful than you think.

A European record in female collaboration!

Posted By Mandy and Elisabet on Sep 16, 2019 | 0 comments

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

Last weekend, one of the world’s largest hackathons for women took place in Stockholm, Sweden.

The organisers were aiming to beat the world record but didn’t quite get there (it was very close!) It was however Europe’s largest ever hackathon for women. And I, Elisabet, had the pleasure of being there, watching close up what happens when great people come together to do great things.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”

Ryunosuke Satoro

The Challenges

11 challenges were put forward by 10 organisations, including well-known names such as Microsoft, Gap Gemini, E&Y, McKinsey, AstraZeneca and Adyen. Women and girls (existing or budding developers and product designers) were asked to step forward and take part in the challenge of their choice.

The list of challenges included subjects like

  • Inspiring girls to code
  • Using AI to analyse images
  • Integrity on your own terms
  • Empowering women to take control of their personal finance
  • Better Health App
  • Accelerate adoption of circular economy
  • Menopause

It all kicked off at Stockholm City Hall, an amazing building, probably most famous outside Sweden as the place where the glitzy Nobel Prize Gala Party takes place each year!

Once everyone had joined a challenge team, the work started. Brainstorming, free thinking, ideas creating new ideas – it was so inspiring to watch! They had just under 24 hours before the winner of each challenge needed to be back presenting their ideas in competition with the other challenge winners.

On jury service

I had been asked to be on the jury for Adyen’s challenge to inspire girls to code, so had the chance to see them in action. We spent all of Sunday in the recently opened WeWork office in Stockholm (the very first to open in Scandinavia). They talked, listened, crafted ideas, drew pictures, coded and finally put together their 3-minute pitches to present to the jury.

We listened with interest, asked questions and started rating their pitches in various categories. One of the other jury members was a 14-year old girl who as the target group of the challenge was invaluable in really looking at the challenge from that perspective (my teenage years are far behind me and as much as I would like to think I can put myself in their shoes her observations clearly highlighted something all the adult jury members had overlooked). Not only did she do a good job at that but she also had the ability to clearly and thoughtfully share her thinking and influence the thinking of others (all adults – such a cool and inspiring girl.

The winner of the Adyen challenge (and the jury was unanimous) was Filter () – an app that will allow the user to create their own filters by learning simple coding, hence laying the foundation for an interest in coding by making it fun, engaging and relevant. A brilliant team, brilliant teamwork – we were delighted to see them go forward to the final.

Stockholm Tech Fest City Hall

Every single person will have walked away from there richer through the insights they’d had, the people they’d met, the accomplishment they’d experienced.

And we all win because everyone who was part of it will continue to impact people around them and beyond.

The winners

Everyone is clearly a winner when this kind of collaborative effort takes place. Every single person will have walked away from there richer through the insights they’d had, the people they’d met, the accomplishment they’d experienced. And we all win because everyone who was part of it will impact people around them and beyond. The ripple effect in action.

There was of course also an overall hackathon winner, which is described like this by Soraya H Contreras, one of the idea creators: “Lucy is an innovative self-help app that takes you through life’s various stages. The goal is to give women knowledge about their bodies and their sexual health while breaking down shame and stigma around pleasure”

Great, fearless innovation – well done to this engaged and innovative team!

You can read more about the winning LUCY app here.

https://sthlm-tech-fest-hackathon.confetti.events/winners

The magic of collaboration

We love seeing people collaborate in the way represented by this event! What we can achieve when we truly open up to others, fearlessly exchange our thoughts, keenly listen to the ideas of others is INCREDIBLE. We feel truly inspired.

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”

Napoleon Hill

FeaturedReal Transformation or Boomerang Change?

Boomerang change is the kind of change that goes forwards and backwards, hesitating and never really transforming anything

Elisabet Vinberg Hearn

Everyone talks about transformation, but is it really transformation they are doing? Could it be that it’s “just” change?

Don’t get me wrong, change is sometimes enough, but the problem is that change often isn’t enough, or the efforts put into change are not impactful enough and therefore don’t really change anything other than what’s on the surface. People fall back into old habits – as habits die hard – we all know that.

Transformation, real transformation, is a marked, significant change, where the change is so thorough, so disruptive, so – well, yes, transforming – that it can’t go back to what it once was. A bit like how a butterfly can’t transform back into a caterpillar.

Real transformation requires more than a well managed project (to change processes, digital tools, organisational structure etc) – it requires a transformation of mindset, habits and culture. And that transformation must be led from the top, where leaders themselves transform how they lead the organisation, how they behave, what they prioritise, what actions and behaviours they ignite in others. Without it, it’s unlikely that transformation will happen.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

George Bernard Shaw

So, if you are serious about business/digital transformation, take a moment to reflect on how you can bring all the pieces of real transformation together – the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW, keeping in mind that real transformation is more about people than processes and tools. It’s about connecting with people, with their hearts and minds.

And maybe Einstein said it best…

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking  

Albert Einstein

Isn’t it time to leave Boomerang Change behind and go for Real Transformation?

Impact in three parts

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

Are you a leader or want to be one? Then check this out!

This week, we want to share a short video that we made about “The Leader’s Guide to Impact”.

The book is the next in the popular series from the Financial Times called “The Leaders Guide to …..” and in this video we talk about the three important parts of the book and how they are relevant to your impact.

Part 1 

In this section we really make you think about the impact that you have on the world around you and those people who are influenced by you. We ask about your awareness muscle and how developed that awareness muscle is. Leadership is about being aware of the effect you have on others and that starts with your own self-awareness. How are you impacting those around you minute by minute. We all have an effect, whether it be good or not so good. So, let’s make sure we are intentional about it

Part 2 

In this part of the book we get into great detail on the impact you have on the audiences around you, we look at your impact on:

  • Your employees
  • People who are more senior than you
  • Your peers or people at the same level as you
  • The board
  • Your external stakeholders; including media/press and social media

Part 3 

In this section we move into the impact you have on specifics outcomes you want to create, we focus in on 4 key areas:

  • Change driving impact
  • Creating a more collaborative impact
  • How to drive an innovative impact
  • And finally, a sustainable impact, driving a more long-term sustainable business

The book covers all of these using examples, giving you tips and techniques to maximise your impact. We also spend time in each chapter explaining the impact that all of this has on the culture, your effect on the organizational culture.

Check out the video here!

Beware the ‘suitcase words’!

From WeAreTheCity’s Future Leader’s Blog

Words matter. A lot.

It’s so important to communicate in such a way that we can reach and connect with other people, right? We all want to be understood the way we intended.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”  John Keating

And yet, we can so easily misunderstand each other, as we all interpret words, sentences and even situations differently. We all have different lenses through which we observe and make sense of the world.  And those lenses are made up by our unique experience; the challenges and opportunities we’ve faced, the insights we’ve had, the people we’ve met.

So, our ability to communicate with others is definitely one to focus on and keep developing, to ensure we are truly understood the way we intended to.

The challenge with ‘suitcase words’

‘Suitcase words’ can be a great communicative tool, as they can include so much, but that’s also the reason why they should be used with care. So, what are ‘suitcase words’? They are BIG words that could contain/mean all sorts of things – they don’t just have one clear meaning.

Here are a few examples:

  • Leadership
  • Intelligence
  • Digital
  • Value
  • Right
  • Wrong

If you look at those words, can you straight away say what they mean through a crisp, clear definition? Probably not. And even if you think you could, would those definitions match everyone else’s? Definitely not.

And yet we often use these words expecting them to make sense to others. So, next time you use a ‘suitcase word’, think through what it means to you and what it is you want to convey to others. Your idea of “right” and “wrong” could be completely different to the other person’s, for example.

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.” Joyce Meyer

The power of ‘suitcase’ words

There are also times when ‘suitcase words’ can be very powerful and useful.

When you don’t want to give someone all the answers, but want them to explore a subject further, using their own creativity and interpretation, then these words are great on their own, without further definition. They can ignite excellent dialogues and new insights.

One such example which we recently observed was when a team wanted to think about ways they could bring real value to the company, so they decided to brainstorm what value could mean beyond what they were already doing. Here are just a few of the ways they identified they could bring more value:

  • Ask their stakeholders what their needs are – and what value means to them
  • Be proactive in sharing knowledge and ideas
  • Be active participants in conference calls and meetings
  • Review work practices to identify overlaps and unnecessary rework

And by going through that process of ‘suitcase word’ exploration, they were able to go beyond assumptions of what value was and benefit from the collective intelligence of the whole team to add more value than before.

What are your thoughts on ‘suitcase words’? How much do you use them? When is it helpful and when not? And do you have a favourite ‘suitcase word’ – and if so, what does it mean to you?