By Cindy Vallance @cdvallance
I closely follow the writing of Nilofer Merchant who is a thinker, independent author, and regular contributor to Harvard Business Review (HBR) on the topics of culture, innovation, and strategy and who was also recognised as one of the “Most Influential Voice on Twitter” last year by The Independent (UK). One of her recent posts has stayed with me. In it, she states:
“Inside our organisations, we ought to re-imagine meetings, because they truly are the supertax of work. If our goal is to create shifts, the role of meetings then should be about the dialogue around an idea so we can understand and learn together. Meetings should not be about regurgitating information that people could read at their own pace. They should allow space for us to hear one another and then to hear the distinctions of the ideas so we can discuss and ultimately learn what criteria matters to everyone — so a clarity of direction can become clear.”
My calendar, like many others across the University, is chock full of meetings. When I experienced a Blackberry synching problem recently, I somehow managed to lose the records of nearly all of my upcoming meetings. While I was momentarily tempted to use this as an opportunity to simply restart my work life with an empty diary, I knew the solution wasn’t that simple. I painstakingly (and with some help) manually recreated all of my calendar entries. So far, I have only missed one meeting and I just have to hope that I have caught the rest.
Last year, shortly after returning from the Change Academy residential programme, I wrote a blog series about the key principles that support a productive thinking environment and which form the basis for productive engagement in the work place including effective practices in meetings. The reality is that re-imagining meetings takes a commitment to positive values and behaviours as well as adherence to rigour in practice. However, while my previous blog series was about creating the right cultural climate for meetings, I didn’t focus in detail on meeting practicalities. Given how important meetings tend to be in our working life, sharing practical meeting considerations will be my goal for my next few posts.
What kinds of meetings work best for you? What tips do you have to share? Feel free to add your ideas and comments.