After one of my first shop-level Theory of Constraints implementation pitch in 2014, I was asked if I desired unsolicited feedback on my meeting facilitation. I wasn’t sure if I did but listened to how inefficient I was. My agenda was vague, I failed to stick to it, and spoke more than I listened for the full hour without really convincing the avionics shop that the change was worthwhile.
Then I reported to our headquarters where meetings often stand in for productivity. So much so that I created the above graphic to wrap my head around the meetings with just one of my three primary partners. The people who attend these meeting loathe them and yet, they persist. Synchronous collaboration is expensive – both in terms of salary and opportunity – but I came across an article that reveals another cost: happiness.
I enjoy Priya Parker’s thinking on gatherings and have urged my team to be more intentional:
- Reduce meetings to minimum amount that remains productive: Can you shorten or combine meetings? Can you reverse the meeting where instead of bringing others to you for a long period, you visit them one-on-one for shorter? As a team, are we aware of the meeting load we’re imposing on the organization?
- Distribute a clear agenda in time for others to prepare: Why are meeting and what is the goal? What are the questions to be addressed? Is there anything the attendees can read ahead of time?
- Schedule for less time than you think you need: Don’t give Parkinson’s Law a chance.