Today, I want to share a great post by Johnnie Moore called, Pseudo-productivity. Johnnie chimes in on one of the most common problems with meetings – a focus on checking off agenda items versus real, good, helpful conversation. And he quotes a couple other folks with wise thoughts on this too. Here are a few of Johnnie’s words on the matter:
"I’m all for productive meetings, but too often the urge to tick boxes excludes the opportunity for reflection, increasing awareness, and the sort of bricolage that often leads to creative insights.
What gets lost when we get pseudo-agreement in meetings is we lose touch with diversity and richness of participants. In my experience, great teams don’t actually agree explicitly about a lot of things."
Any meeting can be technically efficient if you have an agenda and stick to the agenda. You can convince yourself that the time spent together was fruitful because you go around the room and no one disagrees with anything. It can and you could, but SHOULD YOU? Not in my opinion.
The only reason to get together and have a meeting is to have great conversation. If you are not going to have great conversation, don’t waste each other’s time in a meeting.
That said, I do think that great conversation can also be very results oriented. Dialogue can move topics, problems, and opportunities out of the doldrums and into action.
How about this:
Dialogue is action. Johnnie’s quote from Chris Corrigan makes a similar point.
Maybe the saying, "all talk and no action," should be reworked.
Not only is great dialogue action, it might be the most important thing managers and their teams can do.
I was facilitating a small leadership team and they began to talk about their weekly staff meetings. The meetings were not always useful, they admitted. I urged them to never let another bad staff meeting happen. Their time is too precious. They each have the responsibility to ensure this does not happen. They should stop the meeting and call attention to their lack of dialogue and make a decision together to abandon the meeting or make it useful. They seemed to like the idea and I have no doubt they will do this because they understood the tragic waste of time that was caused by poor meetings.
Managers and leaders, I challenge you. Look at the meetings you have scheduled for the next week. How many of them are you prepared to ensure will be filled with great dialogue? Cancel all the other meetings and update people in another way. Try it, you will see that the company does not fold because you stop having sucky meetings.