On Monday, I asked you to review your meeting formats.
Now I want you to look back. Which of those meetings were productive? Which encouraged healthy collaboration, and which had a bunch of people staring into space (or worse, doing other work at the same time)?
Of the unproductive meetings, what was the format like? Did they stick to a specific style, or meander about? Was there someone keeping the discussion on track, or was facilitation left to whoever had the most clout or influence? Was there a clear goal for the meeting?
I can guess the answers to most of these questions. In my experience, unproductive meetings tend not to have any kind of defined format, no agenda, or no facilitation. I find that simply naming the meeting more specifically can help a lot with this. If it’s a 1-to-1 discussion, with the goal of bringing issues to light, we can name it as such: “Alice and Bob discuss potential issues”. If the goal is to make a decision on our new home page after we’ve already gathered a lot of information through discussion, let’s call it “Make a decision on the new home page”.
And if it’s to come up with ideas, debate them, and then make a decision, call it that: “come up with ideas for improving user engagement, then debate them, then make a decision”. When your meeting name is too long and repeatedly uses the name “and”, we can refactor, breaking it into pieces.
A lot of software development boils down to naming things well, recognising smells, and refactoring mercilessly. I encourage you to do the same thing with your conversations.
Again, I’m really interested to know your thoughts and reflections on this topic. Please let me know.
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