Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why can’t meeting finished within 30 minutes?

There is something very wrong with local companies’ meeting culture, where it would drag for hours without any conclusive decision being made at the end of the day. This is a very bad habit, and everyone takes this as the norm and does not realize how unproductive we could be.

What is wrong with current meeting culture? What could we do to improve it?
  • The are always a few people who would be late, thus further postponing the meeting and wasting more time. Thus, make it a habit for everyone to be on time. If you are the leader, make sure you are the first to arrive.
  • Usually no meeting agenda is prepared prior to the meeting, thus everyone came empty handed and unprepared. You need to prepared your members for them to participate and contribute their ideas, not everyone can work and think spontaneously.
  • Even if the agenda is distributed before hand with relevant material, many do not take the initiative to read them, not to mentioned drafting their ideas and contributions before hand. Thus, we need to instill a culture of preparation and contribution. The leader then needs to test the preparation level of their member and encourage them to contribute. If necessary, he might need to make the unprepared ones feel bad so that he never forgets next time.
  • List down the agenda before the meeting and tackle them one by one. Make sure the meeting in steered in such a way that it would be finished within 30 minutes and drawn useful conclusion for most of the agendas.
  • The leader must chair the meeting. Jokes and chitchat must be keep to the minimum, unless it serve a purpose. Whenever someone deviate from the agenda and start talking grandmother story, stop him and pull him back. When no one has an idea, throw an idea. Keep the discussion clean and meaningful, and filter off unnecessary disturbance and white noise.
  • Assign an unofficial time slot for each agenda. When conclusive decision had been made, move on to the next immediately. When the allocated time slot is exceeded, try to conclude within 5 minutes or move on to the next agenda. No point merry goes around dwelling on a agenda, which cannot be concluded anytime soon. Plan it for the next meeting when everyone gets more facts correct and better prepared themselves.
  • Once the meeting is done, the meeting report must be distributed with stated conclusion together with unsolved and new agenda for the next meeting. This is necessary to make every clear and aware of the conclusion made, and also to prepare for the next meeting
The most important person is still the leader who control and steer the meeting. He should not let the meeting run wild and being overwhelmed by all sorts of input from the members. He needs to control, filter, keep the direction steady and accelerate if necessary. If a meeting got dragged for more than 30 minutes, is all his fault. Why should meeting be 30 minutes then? Because 30 minutes is more than enough for normal meeting, and people start getting impatient, sleepy and shut off their brain after that. Besides, meetings eat into your production hours. Too many long meetings are definitely counter productive and a waste of time and resources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

awesome entry.

meeting sux when it's too long with no objective.

rational thinker