Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Said & Done

"After all is said and done, there is more said than done."

"Under commit, over deliver."

"Say less, do more"

All these quotations belong to the same category.

"After all said and done, there is more said than done." - many people leave most meetings with this feeling most of the time. Why? Why meetings produce much hot air and very less action? I think it is due to poor planning, inadequate preparation from attendees and poor facilitation. Meeting facilitation has not been recognized as a profession. Okay, I have seen some companies, during good times, hire outside professional facilitators for important meetings. I have not personally attended one. But, people who attended such meetings came back with great reviews of such professionally facilitated meetings.

Some tips to get most out of meetings.

1) Always have an agenda. Sometimes we need to meet to discuss. Such meetings are better labeled as knowledge sharing sessions and should be called as such to set right expectations. If the meeting is scheduled without an agenda, ask for one. If you are in a position to make a difference, tell them that you will not attend any meeting which does not have a well defined agenda. It is not possible all the time. So, in such cases, go with your own agenda. Meetings without agenda break into a chaos soon. If you have even a rough agenda, you can push that.

2) Try to carve out at least 30 minutes before and after the meeting to prepare for and debrief respectively. It is difficult sometimes when meetings get scheduled back to back. But, if there is time before and after the meeting, block them as soon as you accept a meeting request.

3) When last 20 minutes remain, start asking for an action plan. If you have spent 40 minutes talking, you need at least 20 more minutes to consolidate all that discussion into action plans. Good facilitators plan as such.

4) Develop a culture of discipline around meetings. This is a difficult one. Unless you are in an influential position, it is going to be hard to do this. "Fish always rots from the head down." Hope you work in a place where everyone from the top down are disciplined about meetings. People who are not disciplined about meetings they attend are not professionals. By this definition, most people and their behavior in meetings rules them out as professionals. Sad but true today.


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