How can meetings be made into a more efficient tool within an organization? The answer is structure. Rules and procedures are needed to encourage meeting owners to put in sufficient effort to ensure that their meetings are productive.
When a meeting is badly run, someone should be responsible. When they are brilliantly run, someone should be applauded (and their practices emulated).
In order to minimize the bad practices and encourage the good, it is necessary to impose structure. By structure I mean discipline and rules that must be followed. Only then is it possible to track what does or does not work and to impose best practices in the use of meetings as a decision tool.
The rules that are required to govern meetings relate to:
* Preparation – what happens before the meetings, which includes a cost estimate for the meeting (relative to its benefits or alternative means of arriving at a decision)
* Meeting Management – what happens during the meeting; how it is run and by whom
* Follow-Through – what happens after a meeting to ensure that action items are actually acted upon
* Feedback – policies and procedures that are established to encourage good practices and discourage bad
Controls are set at the top. It must be senior management that imposes the adoption of best practices and sets-up rewards for desirable behaviors. Only with pressure from the top are people going to go through the trouble that is required to make meetings efficient.
In subsequent blog posts I will discuss the four elements of meeting controls, what they are and how they help.