The Chemistry of Strategy tm Newsletter August 26, 2010

Are meetings a necessary evil?

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Who doesn’t hate meetings? Every executive knows that meetings are a waste of time. Hard-nosed, pragmatic leaders routinely brag about how they've eliminated all meetings, and then move on to the next biggest challenge, only to find that nothing gets done. Worse yet, the wrong things get done. What gets done is incomplete. And everything takes too damn long.

Why does this happen? Because there hasn't been effective communication among all the stakeholders. Defining expectations for quality, quantity, timeliness, and cost requires interacting with each stakeholder. It also requires the stakeholders to make tradeoffs among those four expectations. The trick is that you can't do this one-on-one, you have to do it with a meeting. Hence the expression, "a meeting of the minds."

"To Go Fast, Go Alone - To Go Far, Go Together"
an old African proverb

Is this simply a maddening paradox then? Meetings are a waste of time and slow you down. Yet, you can't get anything done right without a meeting. To get things done and accelerate progress, follow this simple, four-step process:

Agreement, and establishing Accountability are most effectively done via a meeting

.The Progress Accelerator

Then the accountable parties are free to aggressively take Action for implementation.

After the Action, you need another meeting for Assessment – and the process continues with yet another cycle to reestablish agreement.

Stop demonizing meetings and learn how to utilize them as an effective tool. Facilitating meetings is one of the key skills exceptionally successful people have. Meetings can be a powerful tool for problem-solving, setting direction, establishing commitment, and producing results. A well-facilitated meeting will enhance teamwork, improve results, and reduce everyone’s stress. Poorly facilitated meetings not only waste everyone’s time, they often damage teamwork and breed cynicism.

During the past 19 years of facilitating strategic planning meetings, we have developed, refined, and validated meeting techniques that really work.

The top four are:

  • Clarify roles for the "top dog," participants, and facilitator
  • Establish meeting rules to insure everyone fully participants
  • Allocate appropriate meeting length -- open-ended or fixed
  • Always use a facilitator for high-stakes meetings

Put an end to meeting madness

At the end of every meeting we facilitate, we ask the broad question, “How did we do?” One of the most common comments is, “These Myrna meetings are so effective, how can we make our normal meetings work as well?”

Maria Birkhead, one of our senior facilitators, took up the challenge to document the best of the meeting techniques she and our facilitators have developed in the crucible of actual meetings. Learn the techniques from our book An End to Meeting Madness or the upcoming webinar "Run Leadership Meetings that Burst with Fresh Ideas."

John W. Myrna

is co-founder of
Myrna Associates Inc

My next Webinars
Run Leadership Meetings That Burst With Fresh Ideas
September 2, 2010
1:00-2:00 ET

Develop a Strategic Plan to Grow Your Business -- in Just Two Days
October 7, 2010
1:00-2:00 ET

John Recommends

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

This book illustrates the power of focus to achieve a BHAG.

It also explains why we have amendments to the Constitution to allow an income tax and women's suffrage.

Speaking Gigs

Are you a member of Vistage? John has been certified as a Vistage resource and would like to speak to your group.

John loves to share his insights. Email him if you'd like to have him speak at your next meeting.

True or False?

"We need a facilitator who knows our industry." Answer

Customer Feedback

"John, you have been the only person to be able to come into our group and successfully facilitate a path for growth. Wonderful system ... Speed & Action!"
Jordan Harper, COO Harrison, Walker & Harper, Inc.

Myrna Associates Inc.
421 Timber Creek Drive, Athens GA 30605-7027

Copyright 2010 Myrna Associates Inc.