Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oh no, not another meeting!

Meetings can be such a waste of time. You tend to sit around while other people waste your time blowing hot air about things that don’t really impact you. I find that many times, people just schedule meetings so they have someone to listen to them yak on and on.

In one of my previous lives, I spent lots of time training project and quality teams how to be effective, and most of that had to do with how to run meetings. We would take a group of people from the plant, give them some team training, and set them to work fixing all sorts of production related problems. These are the people who are closest to the problem and they frequently have the best solutions for fixing them. The real problem is that the management doesn’t generally care what the line workers think, so these guys are used to keeping their mouth shut. We found that by forming a cross functional team of plant guys, with just a corporate facilitator to keep them on the right track and help them with the process of process improvement, they got all kinds of great work done. We put them in charge of their own destiny and as a facilitator, my job was to keep quiet and just make sure they followed the improvement processes. When they came up with a solution, the facilitator would help them prepare a proposal to the president’s staff that they would then deliver. If their idea made sense, and they usually did, the improvement plan was approved and budgets allocated. It was an awesome process and very empowering for the workers. Of course, you have to believe that your workers are more than just a pair of hands for a process like this to work.

But back to meetings. One of the process improvement tools we taught was to be effective in their meetings. Take minutes, have an agenda, a set time, and all that good stuff. They came to the meetings prepared to discuss their topic in the allotted time, they made a decision, and moved on. The meetings were quick, to the point, and very effective.

For the next few weeks, we’re going to explore some topics relative to meeting efficiencies, cost of meetings, and how to use them to your advantage. If you have some thoughts, please be sure to share.

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