Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

by Thomas Frasher on August 18, 2009

meetingOrganize Your Meetings for Speed and Results

As small business owners you will have meetings, in some cases, lots of meetings. Meetings can either be a productive benefit, providing fresh information or detailing actions needed for the furtherance of the business objectives OR they can be a massive time sink, sucking the life and vitality from an organization. The objective of this article is to help promote the positive benefits of meetings and eliminate or at least mitigate the negative traits of meetings.

There are four critical pieces for each meeting, if you can’t define all four pieces, wait until you can before holding the meeting. 
After practicing this method it will become second nature.

1. Define the goal of the meeting: This is the most important piece. 
If you are going to incur the expense of a meeting, and they are costly, you must know why you are meeting and what you expect to have when you are finished.  Without the goal in mind you won’t know when the meeting is off track
or rat-holing away for no reason. As part of defining the goals define how you know when you have acheived your goal, this allows the meeting to be shortened.

2. Define the roles of everyone invited to the meeting: in the parlance of agile project management are the “Chickens” or “Pigs” (more on that later)?  Are the Approvers, Drivers, Contributors or just people to be Informed?
If they are Informed, do they need to be in the meeting?

3. Define the process and procedures that you will use, make sure you stick to them and gently guide the discussion to maintain the process defined.

4. Interpersonal skills are always necessary in business.  You need to maintain, improve and enhance relationships in business, meetings are an excellent venue for promoting collaboration and teams.  Even difficult meetings have space to enhance the relationships with and between the people participating.

Keep these 4 principles in mind and you can expect fewer meetings, shorter meetings and more productive meetings.

P.S. There is a concept in Agile development that speaks of meetings using a breakfast metaphor.  The metaphor goes that for breakfast the chicken gives eggs and therefore some amount of work, the pig gives his life, a much larger commitment.  If the meeting is a Chickens and Pigs style meeting, the pigs discuss their status and the chickens remain silent. More on Agile project management in another article.

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