Marching up and down…

I had a great chat with Rob Paterson on Skype today, comparing experiences of working with big organisations. We talked about how much advance planning there is for meetings. I’m not against planning per se, but a lot of it seems to be based on an assumption that the planner really does know better than the participants how the meeting should run. There’s also a lack of faith in the ability of people to come together and know what’s best in the moment; that’s why everything needs to squared off in advance.

I think the result of this kind of obsessive planning is dead meetings where people go through the motions. And no one finds out where the real enthusiasms lie.

In my imaginary Monty Python-based training course, I’d want to show this clip of Michael Palin on top form in the Meaning of Life.

3 thoughts on “Marching up and down…

  1. Will

    Any Monty Python clip wins me over, I have to be honest.

    But yes, I have a bit of a problem with a planner trying to *shudder – horrible term* own an idea. It does lead to this sort of meeting.

    Reply
  2. Jiri Ludvik

    I’d guess the key is about getting the right balance – I don’t like when someone imposes a rigid agenda on everyone, but there are other situations, where a bit planning helps save everyone’s time.

    I have wasted way too much time in meetings that did not resolve anything or which even did not even did move the problem towards its resolution. Often participants ramble – go completely off the trail (be it unintentionally or because they have a hidden agenda). Sometimes you get two parties disagreeing on some fundamentals of the subject and rather than looking for a common ground they spend all the time trying to get the upper hand.

    My take on this is that the neccessary planning should focus on objectives, finding which are the key areas likely to be resolved. Depending on type of the meeting and participants, these can become firm agenda, or just a broad direction which needs to be validated / re-constructed as a first step of the meeting.

    Perhaps more important is preparation for how to handle potential conflicts in such a way that the meeting does not get ‘stuck’.

    It’s the right balance – which depends on the subeject of the meeting and participants. Sometimes preparation goes a long way towards success.

    Reply
  3. Jon Husband

    Just an opinion here ….

    In many instances the agendas for meetings in most mid to large-sized organizations are effectively a listing of the outcomes desired or sought by those in charge.

    Which may be a significant reason why many meetings are reasonably painful … the deeper issues or other approaches, etc. may be dangerous to put on the table.

    And so on …

    Reply

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