Meetings that Make it

Alex Pollock

Few activities in the working world generate as much emotion as meetings. We go from loving them to loathing them. We can all relate to the frustration of being given a front row seat at a meeting gone wrong.

It is estimated that 25 million meetings take place in corporate America daily. Surveys have revealed that roughly half of that time is wasted. A very poor ROI by any measure. A very visible example of a failed meeting occurred last spring at the White House, where healthcare reform was on the agenda. You may even recall the television footage of 40 dignitaries assembled in a grand setting for a crucial conversation. A piece in the Wall Street Journal cited the following reasons for failure:

  • Too many people in the room
  • No neutral facilitator to run the meeting
  • Letting “outsiders” in the room (in this case, the news media)
  • No small group discussions
  • No collaborative tools (flip charts, white boards)
  • No ban on cell phones and Blackberries
  • The meeting room was too small
  • Inappropriate seating arrangement
  • Allies grouped together

You may well be thinking that common sense should have eliminated these circumstances. Unfortunately in meeting planning and execution, common sense is not all that common.

What have been your meeting planning watch outs? Mine include:

  • Wrong people in the room
  • Lack of meeting objectives
  • Lack of clearly defined roles for participants
  • Trying to accomplish too much

Please take a few moments to reflect on your experiences with meetings and share them with us. Since meetings are so much part of our culture lets commit to helping each other make them more effective.

About Alex Pollock

Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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1 Comment
  1. Stephen Evanoff

    September 11, 2010

    Alex:

    I like your personal list of items to watch out for, especially, “trying to accomplish too much.”

    To those interested in the ideal meeting model, I think Deming’s and Drucker’s writings on effectice meetings are timeless guidelines to follow and refer to occassionally.

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