While effective meetings are essential to any organization and to getting work done, most of the meetings I attend leave me looking for a decision. These meetings also leave me tired and somewhat disillusioned on the vision of the company. I think a good meeting is not dissimilar to a football teams huddle. It should bring people together, facilitate decision making, assist people in taking responsibility, energize the participants, and contribute to building team effort within the organization. From attending and running more than my share of meetings I feel successful meetings are ones where attention is paid to three areas; content, design and process. Selection of content is crucial.
At a meeting I recently attended we discussed issues which would have been better resolved with a couple of phone calls. At the same time core issues remained unmentioned. I felt the meeting would have been more productive if it was focused around key issues, the ones that motivate the attendees and let the meeting participants identify the priority of items to be addressed. I felt the second thing that went wrong with this meeting was there was no design. This hindered the decision making, problem solving, and the informational task at hand. If I were running that particular meeting I would have paid close attention and designed a method of idea generation methods, such as brainstorming.
I would of also had decision processes, a clear agenda, with clearly defined time frames and problem solving steps. The third thing that went wrong with this particular meeting was the facilitator did not make sure the individual needs of the meeting participants were met. I would have made sure people were participating, included in the discussions, and made them feel there was room for their ideas and that their ideas were welcome. I also felt that dysfunctional behaviors were not dealt with properly and there was no positive energy in the group. Overall I did not feel people we recommitted to the task at hand. We must insure people are enthused about the way the group is working to complete the task.
As you can see this meeting was a disaster. It was our first all hands meeting with the new venture group I am currently working in. After the meeting several of us discussed the meeting and all agreed to take our concerns to the boss. Surprisingly, he received us well. As a matter of fact we are getting ready to have another all hands meeting and my boss has hired a consultant to organize the meeting. The consultant is in the process of interviewing all of the attendees and asking them for their input on how to maketh is meeting a success.
I felt very good about this process and hope this meeting is a great success.