Yesterday evening, I was honored to be invited to a meeting with people who I would consider as “high level.” High Level for the reason because they had tremendous power and they were also very smart people.
So the meeting starts, and fairly quickly it starts to loose direction, I thought. The meeting was to review a particular case, and the Chair starts by saying, lets review this, “I have my opinion, but let me hear yours first…” The minute he said that, I was wondering, which brave soul was going to volunteer his opinion…
The meeting flip – flops around for a while as the Chair is rightly trying to piece some background together and lo and behold I heard the classic story of four bodies being played out. The four bodies, if you don’t know are: Somebody, Everybody, Anybody, Nobody. It goes like this, Everybody thought Anybody could do the job and that Somebody would but in the end Nobody did.
What was amazing was at some point in the meeting, another fairly senior person walks in and in his own, gives chapter and verse of the entire history of the case. Whilst there were 2 subjects contained within the case,it was obvious after discussing the first subject that more time was needed to re-frame the case. The Chair, calls the meeting to a close and we did not touch on the second subject at all.
Anyway, the meeting ends, I make a quick exit followed by a smartly dressed guy who had been sitting quietly at the other end of the room. And he says to me, I was there to discuss the second case, how come they didn’t discuss it?????
Take this into our own organizations.
How many times do we sit in meetings, and after some time we wonder what have we achieved?
How many of us sit in meetings oblivious to what is really happening unless it has something to do with our job?
How many of us know people who hoard information and only when pried open will give the whole story?
What does it mean to you, when the meeting starts and the Chair (big boss) says, I have an opinion, but let me here yours first?
Why are meetings just so down right boring?
Well the answer is:
a. most meetings especially committee type meetings are run as hub and spoke meetings. Information flows from Chair to a specific person and back to chair.
b. there is low understudying of the interdependence between each party. I do my job, you do yours..
c. Purpose and desired outcomes are not clear.
d. History has shown that after each meeting, nothing really happens, so why worry.
e. The meeting has a huge number of attendees because the Chair wants everybody to hear the same messages but the attendees have more important things on their minds, so their bodies are in the meeting but their minds are elsewhere.
Meetings can be made better, if we start by measuring success. Meetings are phenomenally expensive events and unless we recognize the cost, we will not have motivation to change.