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Kill That Meeting!

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Tomorrow is Monday, the day when the most important organization’s rituals take place: the meetings.

Right after a refreshing weekend, starting your week with a meeting is a great way to suck energy out of your brain, creative juices out of your soul and time right off the clock.

Don’t get me wrong, we all recognize that the fundamental purpose of meetings is to utilize the collective human capital of a group to get things done.

Nevertheless traditional meetings can be time consuming and unproductive, and digital conferencing, with those pretty Hangouts, Skype calls and Webex, don’t reduce the number of unproductive meetings; it just puts them on new platforms.

As the complexity of our work increases and response time to follow up with our clients decreases, you have to make your meetings efficient and productive. Or to avoid them.

The primary reason traditional meetings are unproductive is that the person officiating is usually the top manager. And while he or she directs the meeting and participates in discussions, however, it’s demonstrated that meetings actually are more efficient when junior members run them. A senior manager may have more experience and knowledge, but may not know how to run a constructive workflow session. Furthermore, having a top manager in charge may inhibit contributions from junior team members or impede collaboration due to politicking.

Among less useful meetings are those dedicated to ongoing planning. These meetings are the most obsolete.

To be relevant, the ongoing planning process needs to be timely and fluid… in a word: ongoing.

Planning requires innovation, as the capacity to respond quickly to new information and to react promptly to changes in the marketplace.

Three connected drivers support an effective ongoing planning process:

  1. Innovative collaboration practices – Put the action plans that workflow management sessions generate into a companywide planning database and assign a coordinator to monitor the database.
  2. A robust planning database – A comprehensive, continually updated planning database, supported with agile methodologies and tools, helps evaluate productivity, assess communication, analyze workflow, and identify challenges and opportunities.
  3. Personal workflow planners – Encourage the use of tools for handling and prioritizing individual responsibilities among your colleagues. Getting Things Done methodology with Evernote as a companion app can be a quick win. This allows them to be more effective and replaces the traditional, inefficient to-do list. Personal workflow planning (its old definition was “Time Management”, but unfortunately time was never managed by anyone :) enables your colleagues to focus on their goals, strategy, impediments and information needs.

Be a facilitator, which is not easy as people are always willing to tell you why an idea won’t work, often without being asked; we’re all surrounded by experts on why things won’t work.

And make turn your meeting into something useful. Or kill it!

How's your relationship with your meetings?