Meetings in 2019: They need to change

10 Feb

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Meetings can be crucial in the way a school runs. This year I want to make it a real focus for me in ways these can be more efficient and productive. Research shows that people in meetings spend most of their time talking about the past, and most of the time talking about things others know nearly as well as they do. No wonder so many people think of meetings as a waste of time.

This year I have set two goals for new and improved meetings which would be to move the conversation into the present and future, and to uncover in your conversation things that no one knew before they walked in the door. This means not only dealing with facts, but with how people make sense of the facts at hand.

For example, one of the most useful discoveries in a meeting isn’t just what people are thinking about an issue, but what assumptions underlie their thinking.

Two things will help me in this regard:

  1. If everyone remembers that the larger goal (e.g., of solving an important team or organizational problem) is bigger than any individual person, you’ll have people reduce their ego connection to the issue (in as much as they can, developmentally).
  2. If people can make—and keep each other honest about—a commitment to ask questions which are really questions and not points they want to make; the questions won’t create a battlefield and won’t be as likely to raise conflict. If you’ve got a space where people can ask curious questions, put assumptions on the table, and make the invisible visible, people will find the meeting a good use of their time, the solution to whatever the problem is will be richer and more significant, and you’ve increased the chance that the people in the room will grow.

In this new meeting plan, people need to change the way they behave with one another.

People should ask curious questions (rather than questions that are trying to make a point or expose a weakness in someone’s thinking), take each other’s perspective, make visible the hidden assumptions that shape the conversation.

I will let you know how I go? Have you got any suggestions of how you can improve meetings?

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