I know, it's an oxymoron right? Good meetings are a rare exception in sea of wasted time, low energy and frustration.
I've just finished reading Read This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli and wow, am I going to change the way I do meetings at work.
This short manifesto outlines the reasons why meetings in organizations suck and how to fix them. Actually, not just fix them, but reboot the entire culture.
We must demand a culture where bad meetings aren't tolerated. If you hold a meeting that wastes the time of your colleagues, you're blacklisted. We need a culture where people don't dare show up to a meeting late or, even worse, unprepared, for fear of being shunned. We deserve a culture where the strong spirit of teamwork brings out the best of the group, not the worst of the individual.
There are about a million1 different pull quotes I could have used, but this one sums of the theme of the book quite nicely. I think it's true for a lot of knowledge workers that when asked what "they do", many would answer that they go to meetings for a living. This is a sad, sorry state of affairs.
The Modern Meeting:
- Supports a decision that has already been made.
- Starts on time, moves fast and ends on schedule.
- Limits the number of attendees.
- Rejects the unprepared.
- Produces a committed action plan.
- Refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.
- Works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.
This may sound all fluffy and unrealistic, but as of August 15, 2011, I'm going to do the following:
- Say "no" to meetings in which there are no decisions for be to be involved in debating.
- Be very careful about calling a meeting including:
- Who I invite
- What is on the agenda
- How much time it takes
- Use a timer in meetings
- Not be afraid to politely, firmly force a participant back on topic
- Prepare strong, detailed, well-written agendas and ensure that all participants read them them advance.
Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it.
Ok, maybe not quite that many. ↩