WebEx

LTA uses WebEx as our primary web conferencing platform. WebEx is an intuitive platform providing a combination of power and user-friendly features out of the box.

Features include:

  • Integrated computer audio & phone audio
  • Uploaded documents & annotation
  • Screen sharing & application sharing
  • Video conferencing
  • Collaborative Whiteboard
  • Robust recordings
  • Easy accessibility for Macs, Windows PCs, smart phones and tablets

We provide WebEx support across our clients for a diverse range of meeting types including working groups, rounds of interviews, all staff presentations, workshop series and Cross Organization Conversations.

In 2012, LTA initiated the switch to WebEx at the American Friends Service Committee and have worked closely with the IT team to execute a comprehensive multi-stage roll out. Now, most meeting that benefit from virtual connections are held on WebEx.

Staff satisfaction is high, frustration is low.

We provide ongoing support but WebEx has also increasingly allowed staff to become more independent, many are scheduling and running their own meetings, with support on an as-needed basis

Meeting Support Services

We are keenly aware of how important it is that you get your meetings right and we have years of experience in helping to make that happen.

To meet this need we provide a full suite of Meeting Support Services. In addition to your staff and governance team, Meeting Supportive Services can be leveraged strategically to forge stronger connections with your key partners.

Meeting Formats include:

Meetings, presentations, discussions, meetings that occur mostly “in the room” (think Board Meetings), interviews, readings, concerts, large conferences including multi-day events, meetings with international connections, keynote speeches, meetings in which participants share and collaborate on documents such as working groups

The Tools we deploy include:

Meeting Solutions and Initiatives that we provide include:

  • Cross Organization Conversations
  • Interviews with candidates and/or search committee members joining from around the world
  • Developing Meeting Ready Offices & Staff
  • Conference room design and upgrades
  • Insuring that you have affordable, appropriate, effective gear

Facilitating effective remote connections to meeting is, of course, a hot topic these days and is transforming the way we all work. We have extensive experience with making these connections successful, whether across  town or across time zones.

We understand the importance of finding the sweet spot for virtual connections within the culture of how you and your staff work, meet and share. There is still a place for being in the room, to sharing full days and meals. And there is a tremendous value in having your country rep in Nigeria join the meeting of your leadership team; and skip the flight, the hotels and the unplanned and unscheduled disruption of their work.

We will also work with you to ensure that the suite of applications and technologies you deploy are the right fit for your organizational culture and needs.

We can work with you to identify the right balance between virtual and in person meetings, and to integrate virtual connections where they make sense.

LTA has an office in Vienna, offering time zone friendly training and support for your staff in the field in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and six hours closer to Asia.

We have been immersed in this craft at the American Friends Service Committee for the past 9 years and in 2012 we were asked to formally created the Meeting Support Services (MSS) project at the AFSC. Our team has taken on 90% of the work related to meeting support. In doing this we have allowed the Program staff to stay focused on their work in the field, and have shifted the burden of meeting support away from the core IT team.

We work closely with the entire AFSC Staff, Board, and key Committees to sharpen their vision, develop necessary skills, and prepare for and deliver successful meetings.

Cross Organization Conversations

Issues involving the direction and strategy of your entire organization have a level of importance and complexity where they are often both of timely interest to all staff members, and require the input of diverse voices. Cross Organization Conversations are designed to address these kinds of topics in a way that is effective, inclusive and economical – delivering sharp, clear key strategies and messages and ensuring buy-in from your stakeholders.

Using the successful method we have developed for holding this kind of Conversation, we have worked with our clients to:

  • Identify key strategic goals to guide program planning and the direction of new initiatives
  • Reveal linkages between existing program work and opportunities for fruitful collaboration
  • Hone in on key messages and themes for outreach and fundraising and/ or to structure major events

LTA can work with you to envision the dynamics then hammer out the logistics.

Through this work, we have found that Cross Organization Conversations provide an invaluable source of information to inform strategic decisions in way that reflects and embodies work being done on the ground, the direction in which staff members and other key stakeholders wish to move, and develop effective messaging to engage with partners and stakeholders.

Participating in the small-group sessions that make up the Conversation enables staff members to have real input in decisions that affect their work and in doing so, creates a sense of buy-in and esprit. At the same time,  they provide  a valuable way to develop and hone your organizational brand.

Through our experience we have developed a set of best practices that ensure your Conversation is both effective and enjoyable for all involved.

We can guide you throughout all aspects of this process. As well as providing technical and logistical support we bring a team with insight into facets of what can be a complex undertaking, including:

  • Recruiting and scheduling participants into session
  • Training and orienting effective facilitators in this specific process
  • Extracting and analyzing themes that emerge and their relevance for your work

For an example see Projects: Building a Framework for a Lasting Peace

Building a Framework for a Lasting Peace I

The Lighthouse team contributed to the vision, and provided technical and logistical leadership, and support for the Building the Framework for a Lasting Peace Project at the American Friends Service Committee.

We refer to this as a Cross Organization Conversation.

This project used the Star Cafe, AFSC’s intranet to publish the current draft of the Framework; a Star Cafe sign up list to help organize participants; a series of Small Group video conferences to discuss the Framework and to gain insight and buy-in from the staff; and extracting and summarizing key points and recommendations to capture the major ideas and themes that came forward.

Throughout the project we worked closely with Mary Zerkel, Director of Praxis/ Economic Justice and Leader of the AFSC’s Wage Peace Program, and Peter Lems, Program Officer for Integration and Impact, to first envision the dynamics and then address the logistics or designing a practical project yielding tangible results.

This included both designing and formalizing a set of steps for holding effective Cross Organizational Conversations, and developing a facilitator training protocol, which has proved effective for preparing excellent facilitators for a wide range of projects, such as Google Hangouts On Air.

“Framework” was a broad success; drew praise from Shan Cretin, the General Secretary at the AFSC; and culminated in a fishbowl small group session at a Board Program Committee Meeting (Mary & Peter facilitating from Chicago) that helped energize the AFSC Board around the project. “Framework” was a major building block for a new Strategic Plan.  LTA’s leadership and work played a central and pivotal part in this success.

For more background on this Project, see this in our eJournal.

Building a Framework for a Lasting Peace II

Building a Framework for a Lasting Peace

The idea of outlining the conditions necessary for Building a Framework for Lasting Peace and Justice had taken root at the AFSC and a group of staff came together in Chicago around the project. (We at Lighthouse still love good old-fashioned in- person meetings by the way. We just think that we have reached an era where they can used strategically,  judiciously, sparingly.)

That group generated the first draft of the Framework. The next step they envisioned was to solicit broad input from the AFSC community and to use that input to forge a final Framework that had buy-in across the organization and could be used to guide program work and the direction of new initiatives.

Mary Zerkel, Director of Praxis/ Economic Justice and Leader of the AFSC’s Wage Peace Program, and Peter Lems, Program Officer for Integration and Impact were charged with carrying the project forward. They knew they wanted to use some kind of small group video conferences and the Star Cafe, and they approached our team to hammer out the details.

We worked with them first to envision the dynamics and then the logistics. We addressed a wide range of issues that included:

  • Who should participate? All staff? Programs staff? (in the first phase, the focus was on the staff.)
  • How can we keep track of the sign-up process? of attendance?

Our team offered test-connects, so staff who were unfamiliar could experience the video technology prior to their meeting

How best to develop the content and flow of these sessions?

We opted to use the IT department for the first meeting and  a “family and friends” group for the second.

These sessions let Mary & Peter sharpen their skills as facilitators for this series of Framework sessions

How to capture “what we heard”?

Without this, the results could lack credibility and these sessions could come to be viewed as “feel good” work. We took notes during and recorded each session and LTA combed through these materials to extract the key themes that had emerged.

Out of these discussions came a design and an implementation plan.

Here is the Front Page of the intranet room developed for this project

Framework Page in the Star Cafe

 

Note the access to the current version of the Framework, the Background on the Project, the List of Staff who had attended the original meeting in Chicago (who could be resources for the rest of the staff who might have questions about the process, and the sign-up list.

Early on, it proved hard to schedule and bring together the sessions. We would offer Doodle Polls with available time slots, but the sign up proved sparse. We were working with busy people, busy calendars, and with lots of moving-target events in their work life.

We had a breakthrough when we switched to fixing two or three times a week for meetings and then committing to filling them. We would ask a friend who would ask a friend – and soon we had a string of well attended meetings. And people loved them.

Fitz from LTA shepherded and managed each of these small group video conference sessions.

Word spread and soon Mary & Peter were asked to bring the Board Programs Committee up to speed on the Framework project. Two hours were allotted for the session and  LTA suggested “Lets get them involved. Lets offer them a ‘fishbowl’ session right in the room in Philadelphia.” And we did. They loved it too. Members of the Committee shifted in and out of the fishbowl and had their say. Mary and Peter facilitated via video conference from Chicago.

Later Mary and Peter briefed the full Board, who reviewed and commented on the Framework draft too.

Kate from LTA took up the What We Heard task. She attended some meetings, listened to the recording of every one, and consolidated Mary’s and Peter’s in-session notes into her final executive summary and report.

Today the AFSC is indeed working to Build a Framework for a Lasting Peace and Justice.

Technologies – summary

The Lighthouse Team has expertise in a wide range of applications that foster collaboration, including:

SharePoint

The Wikipedia SharePoint article leads with this: “Microsoft SharePoint is a Web application platform developed by Microsoft. First launched in 2001,[3] SharePoint has historically been associated with intranetcontent management and document management, but recent versions have significantly broader capabilities.[4] It is the dominant software for creating organizational intranets with a recent survey indicating that around 50% of all intranets are developed using SharePoint.

You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharepoint

LTA supplements SharePoint with InfoPath, Workflows, PowerPivot, and a thorough understanding of the issues in audience and permissions to create innovative SharePoint solutions.

WebEx

The WebEx tagline is: Connect with anyone, anywhere, any time

One of the beauties of WebEx is that you can join by PC, Mac, the WebEx Mobile App on your pad or smartphone, or by phone only. The LTA Meeting Support Services team works closely with our clients to determine where opportunities for deploying web conferencing lie; and in developing the skills that Presenters, Hosts and Attendees need to make those meetings effective.

We work with our clients to build a culture where virtual meeting complements face-to-face meeting in ways that enhance effectiveness and cohesion while reducing costs.

Google Hangouts On Air

When Google first released their Hangouts I looked askance at the name. But now I think they got it right, let the kids play and the grownups learn.

Now NASA uses the Hangout technology to connect us with space, how cool is that?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KQa2MZSXnpw

With up to 10 people in the conversation, the capacity for thousands of viewers, and the ability to archive the meeting on your YouTube channel – all that free of charge, Hangouts definitely have their sweet spot.

Also, definitely fits into the “looks easy” category.

Fitz worked closely with the American Friends Service Committee to create this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMFygO1tmU8&list=PLsiZ_HNqGdBpYMLSkadzay4gor_TYi1_-

Skype

Skype turned the world upside down back in 2003 with its free calls, instant messaging and web cam connections. At first it was the techies, then service men and women overseas, kids studying abroad, and now millions and millions of users worldwide.

Skype might not be central to your communication strategy, but you can’t live without it. We’re old hands and can help you find the fit.

Ready Talk

Audio conferencing is still foundational to meeting. We like the people at Ready Talk who provide a rock solid platform, attentive support, and a focus on the non-profit marketplace.

Also, we have worked with numerous audio conferencing platforms and know the in and outs. If you are already using a conference call vendor, we can work with yours

 

Reach out to LTA if you’d like to know more.