No more rubbish meetings!And that was our mantra for the rest of the month.
And so with that same spirit in mind, I present my top ten list of how to avoid the dreaded "rubbish meeting."
- The meeting must have a goal. Example meeting goals are: we share information, we make a decision, or we discuss an issue that requires some conversation. Each goal has a different output, of course.
- The meeting should end when the goal is reached.
- The stakeholders MUST be at the meeting; the meeting cannot be productive without them.
- Send the goal (or the agenda - which is a roadmap of how to reach the goal) far enough in advance of the meeting so that any necessary research can be completed.
- If meeting participants will need to review documents in order to achieve the meeting goal, the documents must be sent well ahead of the meeting.
- Come to the meeting prepared.
- Summarize the decisions reached (if decision-making was the goal) at the end of the meeting. This sometimes takes the form of listing the action items. ("We decided that X will do Y...")
- Size the meeting appropriately. If the goal is to brainstorm the requirements of a highly complex system with many moving parts, don't try to fit it into a single 30-minute meeting. Break it into smaller chunks, or schedule more time, like a day-long retreat (if it is important).
- Do not rely on the "Subject" line of a meeting invite or email to convey the goal; be explicit in the body of the invite or the email.
- Despite the best of preparations and intention, a meeting will sometimes head off into the weeds and cease to be useful. Never be afraid to pull the plug, and live to meet another day.
Photo credit: http://vitaminsea.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451d84969e2010535dbc2a6970c-320wi