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The Business Hell We Must Escape: Meetings
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Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 9:46:56 AM
meetings
One good thing I can say about meetings: they've inspired a lot of funny Dilbert strips, like these: 

RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 9:50:38 AM
Stick To An Agenda
From my experience, the first priority is to set an agenda ahead of time, preferably with input from meeting attendees, and then stick to that agenda. Then stick to that agenda. If you set a meeting for 45 minutes, no reason you can't end it in 30. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 9:51:51 AM
The Dreaded Status Meeting
I worked in a group where the weekly status meeting had a designated 10-minute block at the end for "moaning and whining." This was designed to keep the update portion of the meeting on track. The culture of the group was such that this technique actually worked. That messy stuff people were dying to bring up? It actually came up and got addressed. And people learned to discuss it in a concise way.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 10:07:01 AM
Discipline
I agree that meetings can be useful if they're run tightly, with a clear agenda and a clear person in charge who can kill aimless sidebars and keep the discussion moving toward an actual decision. I've been in meetings with a disciplined runner and meetings without--the difference is startling.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 10:36:05 AM
Re: Discipline
My pet peeve: Unnecessarily long meetings. I agree that 30 minute i best and all should be capped at 60.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 11:23:00 AM
Meeting is not brainstorming
This article lays out meeting "rules of engagement" about as well as I've seen. It's so important to have a good meeting leader who can set the tone, manage the clock and only cover what is essential. When a 30-minute meeting becomes an 90-minute "brainstorming session" you're screwed. Any meeting-runner worth his salt would never let it happen.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 1:00:05 PM
Dilbert has nothing over real life
Bennett, I could give you a hug for that article.

They have me heading up a Sharepoint "competency group" which includes someone from Sweden and someone from China, that's it. It was suggested we have our verbal web/phone monthly meeting at 7am Central Time so the poor guy in Asia didn't have to stay until evening over there, because that's what these other CG's do.

I asked why in the world a CG on a collaboration tool has to have a verbal meeting at all. :-)  I think they got the irony so they relented on that but suggested web/verbal "kickoff meeting" might still be good to have. Sigh....

I sent a "kickoff email" instead, we'll see how that works out. :-)

 
bquillen280
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bquillen280,
User Rank: Strategist
2/11/2014 | 6:36:15 PM
Re: Dilbert has nothing over real life
Terry B,,

Thanks for your comment.  I recall some years ago when I was working in NYC, I had to lead teleconferences that included people in Denver, London and Hong Kong.  I am not sure how effective that was.  Bennett
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/14/2014 | 9:22:05 PM
Re: Dilbert has nothing over real life
People just love their meetings, even when a technology is implemented to help reduce the number necessary. Hard habit to break! Great anecdote.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
2/18/2014 | 9:12:53 AM
Re: Dilbert has nothing over real life
A healthcare and education CIO I know holds pretty effective monthly team meetings by rotating meeting chairs and note-takers. Each participant takes turns taking notes, writing and sharing the minutes, and setting the session's agenda. This way, all IT pros have a chance at management roles, facilitation, and time-management, according to Mansur Hasib. Also, each individual had to participate in the meeting and buy into an idea before moving on. That doesn't mean taking it as gospel; it means "polishing" a concept, coming up with a better idea, or completely taking it off the table, he said. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 1:27:42 PM
"Team building" exercises
The most torturous meeting element to me is when you're told to break up into ad-hoc groups and come up with some imaginary business plan for a new fro-yo slash social media brand. Please, are we in kindergarten?
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 1:56:14 PM
Start Early!
I will argue there are meetings where you want to brainstorm, but they aren't status meetings.  Teaching meeting skills is almost a lost art.  I

have tried to introduce some basic meeting skills with my son and his boy scout troop (you can never start too early).  As the Senior Patrol Leader of the Patrol Leaders Council, he has four (soon to grow to 6-8) other boys he must meet with to plan and conduct the business of the troop.  I think you best point is really two in one "They come with an agenda THAT GETS DISTRIBUTED BEFORE THE PRESENTATION."  I can't tell you how many meetings I have come to that have no agenda.  Or they have an agenda and its passed out as I enter the room, allowing me no time to prepare or bring pertinent information to bear. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 5:13:25 PM
Re: Start Early!
J., how old is your son? Good skills to build early...not just meeting-organizational skills but also people management skills.
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 5:18:59 PM
Re: Start Early!
He's 15.. Eagle Scout and just elected SPL of the Troop.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 5:25:39 PM
Re: Start Early!
That's fantastic, J_Brandt. Some adults could learn management skills from him! One reason so many meetings fail, I think, is that it's a skill few are taught and some don't learn on their own. When you become a manager you're taught all sorts of things but how to run a meeting isn't necessarily one of them. Sure, some folks review their own behavior and meetings, but some don't. 

We've seen what can happen as the result of a bad meeting (the AOL "town hall" springs to mind, although that wasn't a meeting in the true sense of the world; there was no sharing of info. It was one-way.). And hopefully we've seen how a good meeting can bring together disparate people or ideas and result in a real action plan that gets resuts.
bquillen280
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bquillen280,
User Rank: Strategist
2/11/2014 | 6:44:10 PM
Re: Start Early!
J Brandt,

I appreciate your comment about having an agenda distributed prior to a meeting; I cettainly concur.  Bennett

 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
2/11/2014 | 5:36:10 PM
Can You Hear Me Now?
Meetings' problems get amplified (or muffled?) when you add in phones or videoconferencing. It's not only technology's fault. It's how we, as people, behave when we use the technology! From interrupting each other to lurking, from disconnected calls to repetition, phones bring a new wrinkle to the meeting mix. 

If you haven't already seen this, it's worth the five minutes. Had me laughing hysterically the first time I watched it.



 
bquillen280
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bquillen280,
User Rank: Strategist
2/11/2014 | 6:33:17 PM
Re: Can You Hear Me Now?
Alison,

Fantastic video!  What a hoot.  Thanks.  Bennett
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
2/13/2014 | 8:40:36 AM
Re: Can You Hear Me Now?
This is EXACTLY how these calls go. One would think that by now there is technology available that does not require dialing a phone, punching in 9 digit numbers, download the web installer that downloads the update package that ends up being outdated requiring a fresh install, but only after updating the Java runtime which does not work for the meeting host because on the loaner laptop nobody bothered to install any Windows or other updates for years.

What I want is to walk into a room and start talking, none of that dial in and meeting invitation and conference call stuff.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
2/13/2014 | 9:21:09 PM
Re: Can You Hear Me Now?
Spot on, from the very first line. Great video.


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