We’ve Got to Stop Meeting This Way!

A gifted and highly creative technician found himself running a business. To say that management presented a few challenges beyond the reach of even his vast technical skills, was an understatement, and one of those challenges was directing his previously free-flowing use of time in a way that would enable mere mortals to catch up with him.

Meetings were scheduled but often run without him because he had been called away, or been distracted by the opportunity to develop a new project, or simply been engrossed in creating the next wonder, and forgotten.

People sat around. First they’d fill in time chatting as they waited for him to turn up late – which he did, most of the time. If, after 15 minutes, he didn’t show, they attempted to make progress without him, but such was the depth of his knowledge and the breadth across which he had spread himself in the company, that very little could be achieved without his input – or approval.

If lesser mortals struggled to a solution in his absence, he would likely immediately see the shortcomings in their solution and countermand it. That fact not only rendered the time consumed in the meeting a complete waste, but it dismantled any budding initiative in the team and created more and more pressure on him to be everywhere at once.

Clearly this situation could not continue for long. There was a dawning appreciation of both the huge waste of time, energy and focus being generated by what boiled down to a lack of self-imposed boundaries on the boss’ behaviour.

Our hero developed some rules to live by:

1. Meetings keep the team in step, in touch and in tune.

2. We acknowledge that the duration of a meeting includes preparation, conduct, subsequent action, and the time it takes us to get back to what we were doing before.

3. We honor each others’ time and their need for focus – we use meetings when there is no more efficient option.

4. We acknowledge the meeting investment and we diligently seek a real return.

5. We honor others by turning up, and apologize immediately, and in advance, for our absence.

6. We turn up on time. Being late is not only discourteous, it’s expensive.

7. We run GOLD meetings:

a. Goals – simple sentences, shared with everyone before we start: what we want or need to be different at the end of the meeting.

b. Obstacles, Opportunities and Options – they are what we are there to discuss.

c. Learning – if we need to know something to achieve our goals, it may be delivered at the meeting, or we gain clarity on where to find it afterwards.

d. Decisions – An agenda item is only complete when we decide on a course of action to advance it, and someone present, to carry it out.

8. We honor the decisions made in all meetings to which we are a party, including those to which we were invited but missed.

Sounds like a plan. How about using them yourself?

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

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© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

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