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Graham Birkenhead, June 5 2019

Meeting Mayhem and Magic

I was invited to observe a meeting with a client last week. Ten of the invitees arrived on time but the meeting didn’t start on time because a couple of ‘key’ people were missing.  And then, when it finally got underway, I realized that most of the attendees weren’t sure what the meeting was all about. As the conversation progressed, one or two people dominated the conversation and the rest to varying degrees, were mere onlookers.   In fact, many were so disengaged they were sitting back from the table, staring into space or their smartphones. If you have never experienced a meeting like that, PLEASE let me know .... you’ll be in a very elite group.

Unfortunately, the experience above is an all too common experience.  When I talk to clients about frustrations in the workplace, a common topic is unproductive meetings.  Let’s have a look at the scenario described above; there is more to it:

But it’s even worse than that.  Those kinds of meeting may not only be limiting value creation, they may also be destroying value:

So, what to do about that?  Here are 6 things you can do for your next meeting that will have a very quick impact on meeting productivity:

If your meetings are more like the ones described in the opening paragraph, then this will come as a challenge to many of your people – but, trust me, they will welcome the change.  

There is of course another major element to this (and the topic for a future post), that the purpose of the meeting should dictate the approach.   Solving a complex problem will require a very creative process, which is different from reviewing a list of admin items that need consensus, or updates to keep everyone informed.  Regardless of the type of meeting you need to hold, the above guidelines should give you a boost to get the most out of any type of meeting.

We could have tried to go to the moon, land and return with just one single HUGE rocket, that was the expert view – it’s a good job NASA listened to a mid-level engineer who suggested the innovative Apollo System that was eventually used. 

Written by

Graham Birkenhead


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