Should we ban meetings ?

Jo thinks we should …. well, meetings as we all too often experience them that is!

Read her latest contribution to the Herald’s Business Magazine Big Idea discussion below.

In 25 years of working as an organisational development consultant, I have never heard anyone say that they enjoy meetings, or that they want more meetings. Quite the contrary, almost every week I hear people tell me that they go too many meetings, that meetings don’t achieve anything and that they can’t get anything done for the amount of meetings they have. The worst thing is that a lot of people I come across, particularly those working in the statutory sector, have just got used to it and don’t expect any better.

Occasionally someone surprises me and says: ‘That was a really good meeting’, and it makes me curious enough to ask why. These are the kind of answers I get:

  • I came out knowing what I was supposed to do next
  • We came up with a plan for the way forward
  • I learned something I didn’t know already
  • I changed my mind as a result of something someone else said
  • I was able to say what I thought
  • I felt heard
  • I had time to think

So no one is saying that getting together isn’t important. And when I delve a bit further I find a few things that help.

One is coming into the room as human beings, and taking the time to connect with what is going on with each other before launching straight into the business.

Another is being really clear about why we are getting together, sharing what each person hopes to achieve by the end of our time together and checking that we have the right people in the room to achieve it.

A final one is having a good leader or facili- tator who: helps make sure that everyone has a chance to speak; encourages people to stick to the point; ensures that discussions are concluded and summarises actions.

There are all kind of other fun things we can do to liven up meetings which normally involve music, drawing or walking and talking – all designed to shake people out of their comfort zones and get them thinking differently – but nothing works unless we get the basic essentials right. It is hardly rocket science – but monitor your meetings for a week and you will see that very few of them follow those three simple rules.

Click on the link for the full discussion –  The Big Idea – Should we ban meetings?