Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's a Ball!

Patrick Lencioni intrigued all of us with his Death By Meeting book. In it, he describes when you should have meetings and when you shouldn't. Recently, a Time magazine article about Washington, D.C., included an experience of a company president vying for a government contract. He says he didn't know eight of the 12 people in the room. When he asked for introductions, they replied that they were from Booz Hamilton or Lockheed or other big firms and were there as a consultant to the government, probably charging $300 per hour. They didn't have any purpose for being in the meeting except to generate billable hours.

It may not be that bad in your company. However, chances are you have too many people at meetings. How do you know if you need to invite them?

  • They have knowledge the rest of the group needs
  • They need to hear firsthand the knowledge from others
  • They need to be part of the decision
That's about it. There are plenty of people who don't need to be there. They can be "home" working productively rather than sitting in a meeting for the 3 minutes they were actually involved. These are the people you should keep out if their only reason to be there is because:
  • They will have assignments--this can be communicated later to them along with all necessary background information
  • They want to oversee the process--they can get an update from the meeting organizer later
  • They have a bit of information or need to know a bit of information that affects a tangential part of the meeting subject--they can submit their data before the meeting or get the information from someone after the meeting.
  • They micromanage, don't trust anyone, are nosy, or bored--certainly, they should be kept outside of the room. They'll be more disruptive to the meeting when you wish they were innocuous.
  • They are the "black hole" of the organization--you know the type of boss who even when silent commands attention and signals approval or disapproval of the discussion through rolled eyes, distracted texting on the smart phone, deep sighs, body language, etc. Even though they're not part of the decision-making process in the meeting--"just observing"--they influence the others to the point where a poorer decision is sometimes made because people are more worried about the politics than the issue being discussed.
When you've got the right people, you have a productive meeting and a shorter meeting. It can be a ball!

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