Yes, I am deliberately being provocative, but it is true, ineffective meetings destroy the true value of collaboration.
Ever heard of the phrase death by committee? It’s a long-standing joke that committees can’t get anything done. If you’ve ever been involved in a community based committee, you probably get it. If not, think about all the meetings that you’ve attended where there is a lot of talk but nothing gets done.
The aim of collaboration is to generate better ideas and results than one individual could on his or her own. Collaboration is not an opportunity to pander to egos and to provide everyone equal say and equal input.
Being “inclusive” is theoretically a good idea until it turns into a “right” to have your two cents worth. I see this in larger organisations who have “collaboration” as one of their organisational aims, which sometimes goes awry on implementation as meeting after meeting is scheduled. Projects becomes sluggish and instead of sparks of brilliance, the safe and known path is usually the result.
Just to be controversial, I am tempted to say – don’t have meetings. It would be trailblazing but probably not realistic. So the next best thing would be some tips on how to have more effective meetings.
Top 3 tips on how to have better meetings
- Reduce the number of meetings and shorten them
Don’t have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. Consider whether a meeting is actually required before setting one up. If the purpose is to update, this can be easily done via electronic means. Make meetings about action, not updates. Shorten meetings, or at least make it length appropriate. The more unnecessary time you allow for a meeting, the likelihood of distraction is higher. Shorter meetings create urgency and improves focus.
- Reduce the number of attendees
You don’t need everyone at the meeting. Choose your attendees carefully, and everyone else can be on the cc: list when an update is issued. Input can be sought via email prior to the meeting.
- Communicate purpose of meeting
Get everyone clear on the purpose and outcome that is required of a meeting. Communicate this clearly prior and at commencement of the meeting. Note that this is not the same as having an agenda. An agenda a piece of paper that does not substitute for communication!
I would be keen to hear your feedback. Love or hate meetings? Do you think they help or hinder collaboration?