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Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 1:10 AM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Productive Meetings






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Post #756352
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 7:14 AM
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I reluctantly admit that face-to-face meetings have side-benefits in terms of getting to know people in coffee and lunch breaks. But most of my meetings are internal to the business, and I usually manage to opt for audio conferences - there is limited benefit to travelling for 7 hours to spend 2 hours round a table. Audio cons seem more productive - people are less distracted and cannot get chatty with the person next to them.

In support of your view that we should try to encourage better meetings, we have to start with a clear purpose - "why are we geeting these people together and what is the end product". A good Chair makes a huge difference, to keep up the pace and focus on the agenda, to raise the quality of participation expected, and not to be afraid to chastise those who are poorly prepared and disorganised. A really good Chair is chasing people a week ahead - it's more like being a project manager.

My personal bugbears are

- people not reading Minutes (and associated briefings and papers) before the meeting - it's not held for them to sit and read but to make brief contributions to discussions before the meeting actually does or decides something

- people debating with colleagues matters that their own sub-group should have decided ahead of the main meeting

- people using their laptops/Blackberries during meetings. This is a matter of degree - if someone is presenting or minute-taking, that's one thing; deciding to read your e-mails simply undermines the meeting, and is surely a give-away that it is being run poorly. If you have free time or are bored, perhaps you're the wrong person, at the wrong meeting.
Post #756551
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 7:54 AM


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Steve,
You are absolutely right that most meetings are poorly ran. A great resource for running productive meetings is Manager Tools. http://www.manager-tools.com/taxonomy/term/6

These are a couple of West Point Grads and former Proctor and Gamble employees that consult on managerial topics. They seem to have a bent towards technical employees who have found themselves promoted into a managerial role. This is why I find the site so useful.
Post #756589
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 9:39 AM


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I have always hated meetings. Mainly because I have rarely been in a meeting where there was someone actually leading the meeting. The person calling the meeting should lead, starting with a clear purpose statement for the meeting and an agenda. Most of the time, even if there is an agenda the leader allows the meeting to go off-topic which then extends the meeting. There is nothing wrong with saying, "That issue is outside the scope of this meeting, I'll make a note of your concern" or "we can discuss that after the meeting".

The few good meetings I have been in have had an agenda and a leader who kept it to the agenda. These are also the only meetings where something was actually accomplished.

Lastly, I have to indict myself here, as I have called meeting and allowed them to get off-topic.




Jack Corbett

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Post #756708
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 12:06 PM
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I worked for a few years at Intel where the concept of meeting management was taught to all employees as a "basic skill" and expectations were set as to how meetings should be run. I won't say all meetings were run well but the majority of meetings I participated in where done well. It was surprising how effective a meeting could be if the basic rules were followed. As others have noted, having an agenda (whether it includes reading minutes or not) and a meeting leader who truly leads are basic requirements for a meeting. All participants had the right to call "rat hole" if meetings got off track.

In the case of a principal contributor not being prepared, meetings were cancelled and/or rescheduled quickly so a minimum of time was used. Usually, the contributor insured he/she was prepared at the next meeting as the meeting minutes usually indicated the result of the meeting.

The current company I work for does reasonably well but no well as well as my time at Intel.

We all spend a lot of time in meetings, whether team meetings or larger group meetings. It is always best to not feel one has wasted time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Jim
Post #756836
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 3:12 PM


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The key to meetings is for them to have a goal, i.e., something they are supposed to accomplish. Occasionally, a meeting which is just to give status can be effective, because it gets everyone hearing the status of the other team members at the same time, which can flush out conflicts, misunderstandings, and duplications of effort. The best meetings are those in which they have a product, such as a decision on which of two or more alternative approaches to use to move the project forward.
Post #756991
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 9:43 PM


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An agenda is key, but it's also the leader to make sure that you work to the agenda and don't get off topic. I've seen too many status meetings degenerate into something else. Get in, get out.







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