Molly sits in her office, chin supported by her cupped hand, staring out of the window as she uses her inner vision to stare directly into her fanciful daydream......
A meeting was called and the agenda was sent out prior to the meeting and all meeting attendees-to-be checked to see if they needed to put in any preparation or thought before attending and if they did, they did so. Everyone arrived on time. The person who called the meeting had worked out clear and realistic objectives for the hour and a half everyone was to spend together. Everyone was clear about their role within and beyond the meeting. The chair kept everyone on task - although this was easy because the planning for the session was so unambiguous, there were no egos competitively and deliberately being contrary for the sake of it, nobody moaning as a work avoidance tool and no one felt the need to waffle on extensively down a fruitless tangent. At the end of the meeting all the objectives were met and those with responsibilities beyond the meeting knew exactly what they needed to do and when they needed to have done it by.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Have I laughed enough to indicate how far-fetched that daydream was? No. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Oh the pain ha ha ha ha ha
Every week the working world must play host to thousands of meetings. It's definitely a good method for keeping people off the streets as it certainly fills up a lot of time. I do suspect that the 'culture' of meetings varies from place to place and from organisation to organisation. I also suspect the private sector is better than the public sector at pinning down what needs to be pinned down - after all time is more obviously money in Businessland.
Looking at the angle from which I look (Potteryfluffbutstraightthinkingsville) most people don't do meetings well. A productive and effective meeting needs some planning - unless the meeting is really straightforward - there's no avoiding it. Few people seem to get that. (I say this despite being a person that's often happy to wing it.) An effective meeting also needs a strong chair - one with a clear understanding of the objectives and a firm hand for swiping at irrelevancies.
Another thing....meetings need conceptualising! Why don't these people know this? There are many different 'types of meeting' but I have rarely been informed beforehand what my role in the meeting is. In fact, when I have asked, I have been seen as somewhat difficult. (Again).
*is the meeting just for just for information sharing?
*is the meeting for problem solving for a distinct task that is repeated e.g. reviewing different resources?
*is the meeting about steering a piece of ongoing work that is done beyond the meeting?
*is the meeting about bringing experts together to complete or steer a finite piece of work (and eventually, therefore, have no more need to meet)
*are the people at the meeting representative of their organisation and can therefore make decisions on their organisation's behalf or just another 'mind' to help out?
*are there expectations of work beyond the meeting or is all that is required is expertise within the meeting?
The answers to these questions are meant to be set out in the terms of reference, but despite reading many, I have yet to find evidence of such clarity. I guess if meetings were the utmost in efficiency, we'd have too much spare time on our hands - and with that, I for one, would be out mugging - especially if I had come straight from the frustration of a meeting.
I feel I might have just have got something off my chest. Thank to those of you still here.
Molly continues staring out of the window. She is in charge of the world (perhaps just the northern hemisphere). All is well.