Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Are we just not clear about how to hold a fruitful meeting?

Comment from Garvin Chow to our blog

"It is interesting to know how one can take a step back from contributing towards a boring and unproductive meeting. I've encountered countless number of such meetings but have yet to find a way around it. Could it be that we are lacking a meeting facilitator, themeweaver or are we just not clear about how to hold a fruitful meeting?"

Great question Garvin -- "are we just not clear about how to hold a fruitful meeting???" And if we have to participate in them, what can we do to turn a boring meeting into a productive one? How can we "unbore ourselves" enough to make a difference? My first question to you is what is the purpose of one of these meetings that isn't going anywhere? Is the purpose clear to all who are there? Sounds simple, I know, but when meetings are held routinely without a clear goal, it can be deadening. Instead of stepping back, step forward and check out whether everyone knows why the meeting is being called and what you hope to get out of it. The second question, and this is a big one, are the right people there to get this job done? One ingredient of a fruitful meeting is that the people present can learn something new, create more innovative solutions and build relationships that take things to the next step. Check if you often have people missing from the conversation -- for example, people with authority to take action, people with key information or people who will be impacted by your decisions. When the same people meet regularly, you can find that you are recycling the same story, same ideas and same dynamics. It's no surprise that such a meeting goes around in circles. You can step forward with this point as well and ask, "do we have the right people here?" You ask about a meeting facilitator and if you can know one who appreciates the impact of structure on the meeting's output, it could be very helpful.

I'm curious at this point to find out if these ideas have meaning to you or to others who experience Garvin's frustration. Let's continue the conversation -- there are other ingredients to a good meeting that are worth exploring as well. For now,

Sandra

15 comments:

  1. Dear Sandra,

    I am heartened to hear from your good self. You highlighted a few important lessons and one of which resonated greatest with my inner self is the discipline to uphold all the lessons you've mentioned in the regular/routine meetings I attend. The crux is how to carry the agenda forward, and how to deepen the level of discussion or up the quality of conversation in those regular meetings that were scheduled because they were supposed to be important. Perhaps, we have forgotten why we made it regular or perhaps we have enlarged the agenda too broadly due to the superficiality of each each conversation during the meeting or perhaps we have been presumptious to think that we know how the other members will react when a topic is broached, so much so that we do not raise the pertinent topic at all during the regular meeting.

    Maybe, I could experiment if a facilitator could make a difference to those meetings. On a related note, have you seen cases where meetings are regularly facilitated? If so, perhaps I could learn more about how this arrangement or behavior can be inculcated.

    Regards,
    Garvin

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