Yesterday I was talking with a friend who described a three-hour, recurring meeting that’s been happening for 18 years.
Highly paid managers from all over the region drive in for this meeting.
Ideas, opinions, and plenty of aimless chatter fill the meeting space. Unfortunately, my friend noted there were few decisions made and rarely any plans to take specific actions.
In his view, the meeting was a total waste of time and money.
Ironically, the group that met was interested in finding ways to save money.
Out of frustration at what he witnessed, my friend suggested that if they stopped meeting, they’d probably save a half million dollars a year.
To his surprise, they pulled the plug. And for that I say, “Good for the brave soul who had the courage to take a meaningful action.”
Meeting Improvement Strategies
His story got me thinking about the meeting improvement strategies I recommend to clients. In order of importance and money saving potential they are:
- Don’t call a meeting unless there’s a darn good reason to have one.
- Call it only after determining there aren’t less expensive ways to accomplish your goals.
- Make sure you have a plan that increases your chances of creating a valuable outcome.
- Use strong facilitation techniques to keep the meeting moving in a productive direction.
The meeting my friend described was such a long-held tradition that I would likely have focused my recommendations on strategies 3 and 4. I would have assumed the meeting had to occur. By making that assumption, I would have not suggested my best two strategies.
A New Meeting Improvement Strategy: Control Alt Delete
So let’s add a new one. We’ll call it the Control Alt Delete meeting improvement strategy.
I’ve got an older computer that has collected its share of bloatware and other nasty stuff within its technical bowels. Every now and then it throws me a glitch that I try to fix by using a variety of tricks I’ve learned.
Sometimes I succeed. When I don’t, I turn to Control Alt Delete. Occasionally, my keyboard is locked, and I can’t even do that. In those cases, I hold down my power button to force a restart.
Either option goes against my instincts. I was taught that computers don’t like to be shut down in this way. When the computer restarts, it screams at me for doing an improper shutdown. I usually have some open documents that need to be restored. I may even have lost a little work that wasn’t saved.
Another thing I notice when this happens is that there were some programs I had open that I no longer need to restart, so I don’t. It makes me wonder if it was one of those programs that created the problem in the first place.
But here’s the thing, more times than not, it works. After a short amount of pain, the computer works again.
When you are part of a long standing meeting that isn’t working, you could try to fix it. I’d suggest you do, but don’t spend too much time trying. As soon as you start to think you aren’t to going resolve the problems with your facilitation wizardry, it’s time to shut it down—Control. Alt. Delete.
And before restarting this meeting, go back to my four strategies, and this time start with number one. Perhaps you’ll have a need to rebuild this meeting. Or maybe you’ll leave it in the scrap heap.
Either are viable options. You just need to be purposeful about which you choose.