Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Freedom from Meandering Meetings

Johanna Rothman has this to say in the latest issue of her ezine "Pragmatic Manager:"

Meetings are a fact of our lives. Most of the time we don't need a facilitator to help move our meeting along; we can manage to accomplish the goals of the meeting without a formal facilitator. However, there are times when a facilitator makes sense.

Whatever you do, choose when you require a facilitator. Don't let the problems or conflicts escalate into no decisions, especially when you require a timely decision.


Steve Smtih recently wrote about measuring meeting ROTI.

Yes, meetings are a fact of life, and many organizations suffer from ineffective meetings.

I'm not exactly surprised any more when I visit organizations where mangers and technical staff spend 80% of of the working day in meetings. I've observed a quite a few of these meetings, and more often than not, the result of the meeting is not a problem statement, solution candidate, decision or other tangible outcome, it's another meeting. I do wonder when managers manage, directors direct and technical staff finds time for immersion in technical problems when they spend 6 or more hours a day in meetings.

Meeting are more effective when:

-- there is a clear goal or purpose for the meeting
-- there is an appropriate process to reach the goal
-- the goal can be reasonably accomplished in the time allocated
-- necessary background information is available
-- any preparation necessary is explicit (and actually completed)
-- the people who need to be present to achieve the goal are known and are present
-- the meeting is kept to the smallest number of people needed to achieve the goal

It does take time to line up the items in this list; the result is a far more effective meeting. And effective meetings means fewer meetings in the long run.

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