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Thursday, 08 December 2016 12:31

5 Reasons Meetings Never Improve

By: 

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand or like to waste time, you know meetings suck up a tremendous amount of valuable time. You’ve also read lots of advice that is supposed to help. You’ve probably even tried some of that advice. And you are not alone.

So why is it that meetings are still wasting so much time and everyone is still complaining about them?

This is why: 99% of the advice you’ve heard for improving meetings doesn’t work.

1. Typical advice assumes meetings are the problem.

It’s as if meetings create some sort of evil force that destroys time and renders people incompetent. To conquer that force, we need rules and tools to control people.

But meetings are not the problem. Meetings are just how we work together. Unproductive meetings have nothing to do with meetings and everything to do with a lack of clarity. Meetings simply expose and amplify any lack of clarity. If you are unclear about what you are trying to accomplish while sitting alone at your desk, no one need know. You might not even recognize the fact yourself. But walk into a room full of people and let all the horses out of the barn, and its just luck if anything is accomplished. As a matter of fact, the more helpful, determined, intelligent, and extroverted the group, the more different and interesting directions they can take any topic!

2. Typical advice focuses on tools.

Tools like agendas top most lists. But most agendas actually increase waste because you not only waste time in the meeting, you waste time creating the agenda, especially if you take the time to get the formatting right. The vast majority of agendas simply prescribe how you are going to waste the time and do nothing to prevent the waste of time. Every day I witness serious, earnest people talking about agenda topics with great discipline. Unfortunately, just because a discussion is focused, disciplined, and interesting, doesn’t mean anything is accomplished.

Time frames are another favorite tool. By assigning limited time, the hope is that somehow, something will be accomplished. If nothing else, you can let the clock decide you are done so you lose less time. This advice is usually coupled with suggestions about big clocks or an hourglass. Dripping sand can pump up the pressure and make people talk faster, but it will not improve their ability to make group decisions.

Author:  Ann Latham

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/

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