Meetings are one of the expenses for an organization. Since time is money, unproductive meetings are waste of time and in turn waste of money. People call for meeting for various reasons and often times people attend them with out knowing its purpose. Some meetings are convenience meetings which could have been avoided by sending a email or writing a document, some are formal meetings like meetings called by managers for status updates or to disseminate some information and some are just social meetings. Often times meetings are called to make a decision or to distribute effort between people and organization’s.
Meetings do provide a value but sometimes they do not justify the cost of interruption and loss of productivity. Some of the problems with traditional meetings is that it creates a culture of compromise and they kill our sense of urgency. People would avoid making a decision and leave it for the people attending the meeting, or people would avoid taking up a responsibility and leave it to the people attending the meeting.
More often people call for meetings with out any preparation or proper agenda. They would often invite people with out understanding the value they would bring to the table. Also not having a proper agenda will bring attendees unprepared.
In the book “Read This Before Our Next Meeting” author Al Pittampalli lays out some ground rules for modern meetings. Following are the ground rules for a meeting
1) Modern meetings supports a decision that has already been taken.
A decision should not be left for a meeting. A tentative decision should have already been made by consulting people if required. A meeting should be held to ratify the decision or to make amendments to the decision. This will result in having a meeting with clear purpose and clear outcome.
2) Modern meetings moves fast and ends on schedule.
As the rule says meetings should be kept on track and on the purpose.
3) Modern meetings limits the number of attendees.
This is very important. Invite people who are absolutely necessary. If required one can convey the outcome of a meeting for rest of the people in a formal email. If more people are invoked it creates uncertainty in the decision.
4) Modern meetings rejects the unprepared.
As the rule says no attendee can come to meeting with out understanding his / her role in the meeting. Everyone should come prepared to the meeting. For ex. modern meeting is not a place to bring people up to speed.
5) Modern meetings produces committed action plan.
Every meeting should have a outcome and committed action plan.
6) Modern meetings refuses to be informal. reading memos is important.
This means people should take meetings quite seriously. They should read all the memos / documents that are sent regarding the meeting. Meetings should be very formal and should not be a place for personal conversation.
7) Modern meetings works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.
New ideas should come out of the meetings.
For detailed explanation I would recommend reading this book. As a promotion Kindle version is available free for limited time.