How to Hold the Right Meeting - Part 2 - Less Meeting

Posted by | September 08, 2011 | Meeting Tips | No Comments
In the first post of this series – http://blog.lessmeeting.com/2011/08/how-to-hold-right-meeting.html – we looked at how to make sure you’re not having the wrong meeting.  We began by breaking down two of the most common meeting types: Status Meetings and Problem Solving Meetings.

Today we’ll look at two new meeting types and how best to run them: Planning Meetings and Operational Meetings.

Type 3 – Planning/Ideation Meetings:
Example meeting types – Common types of meetings that fall into this category include: Strategic Planning, Brainstorming Session, Project planning, Requirements / Scope Analysis
When to have them:
  • You know your objective, and you want to get ideas on how to achieve your objective.   Think of these types of meetings as you would think about vacation planning (e.g. Where do I want to go, How am I going to get there, What path will I take, what will I do along the way, what do I need to bring, who will go on the trip with me).  The most common type of Planning/Ideation meeting is the Brainstorming session.
Inputs & Outputs:
  • Planning / Ideation meetings must have a defined end point. Without a general concept of vision of what you are planning or brainstorming about, your meeting will not flow.
  • The outputs from these meetings can be very different; they range from a single concept and how to achieve it, to group of concepts to explore further.
Key Roles:
  • Facilitator – The meeting facilitator should be responsible for: getting the right people in the room, setting the defined end point/objective, and helping to guide people’s thinking by asking insightful questions, preventing the team from going down rabbit holes.
  • Participants – The participants should be responsible for keeping an open mind. Thinking outside of their comfort zones, and asking questions.
Common Pitfalls:
  • Wandering – I have been in a lot of meetings where the discussion wanders far from the objective.  At that point in time you need to ask: “Is the point we are currently focusing on more important than the original objective”
  • “Because… This is how we have always done it” – This is a terrible answer for almost anything. It is an especially bad response when brainstorming or planning. The attendees of the meeting should make a point to think about alternatives that might be better than the current approaches.

Key Suggestions:

  • Mind Map – Using Mind Maps helps capture ideas and allows your team to be flexible on moving on without losing a point.  Xmind and Mindjet are two great tools to use for this.
  • Thinking Hats – Try using the six thinking hats approaches to frame questions.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Thinking_Hats
  • ASK Questions –  Instead of shooting down suggestion you think are “bad”, ask questions such as:
  • “What do you think are the key benefits to that approach”
  • “What do you think are the possible drawbacks to doing it that way”
Type 4 – Operational Meetings:
Example meeting types – Common types of meetings that fall into this category include:   Financial review meeting, Shareholders meeting, Board Meeting, Committee meeting, and Annual Meeting
When to have them:
  • Operational Meetings are more formal meeting types that are typically mandated by policy, regulations, or organization by-laws.   Operational meetings typically exhibit attributes of both Status Meetings and Decision Making meetings.
Inputs & Outputs:
  • Operational Meetings should have a standardized agenda that adheres to the expected outputs for the meeting.
  • At the end of every meeting there should be formal meeting minutes that document the discussion, decisions, and key action items.
Key Roles:
  • Organizer – The organizer should be focused on getting the schedule coordinated between all of the key stakeholders. In addition, the organizer should be responsible for getting all of the agenda discussion items from the participants prior to the meeting.
  • Leader – The meeting leader is typically one of the heads of the organization or group.  This person should be responsible for setting the ground rules and the expectations for the meeting. He or she should be driving the meeting directly from the predefined agenda.
  • Note Taker/Secretary – There should be a formal note-taker who is responsible for capturing, proofreading, and then publishing formal meeting minutes.
Common Pitfalls:
  • Not having key member available.  Formal operational meeting typically require the participation of all key stakeholders, they planning for this meeting should occur well in advance of the meeting date to ensure that everyone is available.
Key Suggestions:
  • Socialized information before hand – The information and decisions made in these meeting should be disseminated to everyone to ensure that people are not blindsided with new information during the meeting.  If there is a vote on a key decision item, that decision owner should have discussed the decision item with all voting members prior to the meeting.
  • Using alternate technology for official materials – printing out and binding meeting packets can get pretty costly when you have a larger boards or teams. I have talked with a few organizations where they are starting to use tablets (Ipad/Androids) instead of printed binders for their executives in meetings.
In the third and final part of this series we’ll wrap up by covering Review Meetings and Sales Meetings
View part 3 here – http://blog.lessmeeting.com/2011/09/how-to-hold-right-meeting-part-3.html.