Stop wasting time in meetings

Technology is constantly speeding up the pace of business: Decisions once delayed for weeks are now made in seconds thanks to internet communication. Computer analytics puts real-time market information at our fingertips. Transactions can occur anywhere, any time.Logic holds that businesses that can't keep up will be left behind. "Just to keep pace, businesses must develop organizational agility, and it's absolutely critical if they want to do more than just survive," says Mike Richardson, author of "Wheel$pin: The Agile Executive's Manifesto: Accelerate Your Growth, Leverage Your Value, Beat Your Competition". Organizational agility is being able to move quickly and decisively, and one of the biggest obstacles is unproductive, time-wasting meetings he says. "They start late, run long, and don't achieve much," he says. "But meetings are the backbone of an agile business." He offers these tips for developing agile meetings with traction: • Map your meeting: Create a standing agenda and a master spreadsheet with tabs relevant to each agenda item with the expected inputs, throughputs and outputs. That way, the meetings are easy for the chairman to run because everything is crystal clear. • Set the mood: Set the tone for the energy level by playing a video or music. You can tell a story, read a quotation, or be unpredictable and create a surprise factor. • Spark creativity: Frame the purpose of the meeting as a question: How do we best …? Questions get the human brain thinking more quickly. • Document the action live: Instead of taking notes, editing them and distributing them afterward, save time by capturing everything electronically in real time. •Time-box everything: Meetings should last 45 minutes, from 5 after the hour to 10 minutes to the hour. Allot time for each agenda item and especially for presentations. • Leverage the wall-space: Have the standing agenda on the wall, creative problem-solving frameworks, your core values, key elements of your strategic plan, inspirational quotations, etc., all in a format large enough for you to refer to during the meeting. • Generate input: Have everyone take a minute to write down an idea relevant to the agenda item. Go around the table and allow each person to share his or her idea, or break into pairs or triads to discuss the ideas and report back. •Get fast consensus: Once the options are on the table, facilitate the group toward fast decisions with statements and questions like: "I'm leaning toward this …"; "Does anyone have a violent objection to that … ?"; "Can everyone get behind that?"; and then move them into fast action:"How would we best do that?" Creating agile meetings is one big step toward creating an agile organization which is in traction.

********** Published: February 23, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 45