Meetings are at the heart of an effective organization, and each meeting is an opportunity to clarify issues, set new directions, sharpen focus, create alignment, and move objectives forward. – Paul Axtell
The Agenda is the enemy of productivity in meetings.– Hugh Ballou
Bad meetings are a killer of team empowerment. – Hugh Ballou
Here’s the module where I explain why a meeting agenda is the enemy of productivity. The agenda is a checklist of activities. I already have enough activities in my life. I’m looking for results in every activity. Therefore, focus on outcomes. Meetings either empower teams or kill team energy. It’s our choice which one we support.
Instead of using the old tried and untrue pattern of creating a meeting agenda, choose to define the desired outcomes for the time together using “deliverables.” The deliverables are specific achievements, or goals, for the session you are conducting. As Steven Covey has defined, “Begin with the end in mind.” In this case, define what you want to walk away with having completed in the time of the meeting.
Here’s a pattern for planning a meeting:
Overall Purpose– If you have an ongoing project or are meeting continuously, define the ultimate objective of the team and/or organization. This helps the group to keep perspective for the journey.
Deliverables for This Session– Define what you will accomplish in this one meeting. Be specific. When you come to the end of the time, everyone knows that the goals for this time have been reached.
Off-Limits for This Session– Groups get into the weeds or go down a rabbit trail that isn’t productive. It’s important to define what will be accomplished in this session and it’s also helpful to define what the group will not do! For example, to define the details of any initiative would be appropriate when setting major directions or defining projects. Do the details between meetings and report back.
Background– List the “givens” or the facts surrounding what you are working on. Do not assume that everyone has the same data. List things that you think are obvious, even if those facts are just perceptions. This helps to eliminate time wasted debating things.
Learn to facilitate group process, especially running meetings. Leaders influence others. Leaders ask good questions. Leaders let others on teams utilize their expertise. Leaders build high-performance teams. Effective meetings create a “New Architecture of Engagement™”that defines the culture.