Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Meaningful relational time, Yes. Ineffective meetings, No.

Most meetings I attend require no action from the people present.

Most of the discussion is not about thoughtful, evaluative, critical and constructive engagement - nor is it about work needing decisive review - it is simple data delivery.

My honest sense is that 90% of the 60-75 minute meetings I attend, could be summarized in a bullet list of data points that could be read by any person in 2-3 minutes, saving every-single-participant the hour!  Or, alternately, a 3-5 minute video-clip could be sent to all meeting participants in place of the meeting, again, saving everyone the hour!

  • I love effective, deliberate, engaging meetings that have set agenda, deliberate organization and which take decisive action or which give actionable items for clear follow-through!
  • And!  I'm all for meaningful relational time.  I enjoy fellowship with colleagues and partners in pastoral ministry, political issues, peacemaking, interfaith conversation and more where we sit to "just talk" about "ideas" or explore dreams!  I enjoy meaningful relationship!  

But, I do not understand ineffective meetings where people claim the so-called-meeting served a purpose because, "We all needed to get together to talk" or "We always meet on X day of the month."  If it is X day of the month, and there are no action items, then cancel the meeting and plan a deliberate social event for relational value, but don't pretend it's a meeting or run it like a meeting.  Or, if there are only 10 minutes of action items, and the meeting is scheduled for X day of the month, then figure out a way to use technology to get the 10 minutes done virtually.  Or, tell people in advance that only 10 minutes is needed, and if everyone will show on time, then at the 15 minute mark, have beverages delivered and enjoy shared relational dialogue, celebrating an effective 10 minute meeting followed by separate time of shared fellowship when the meeting is adjourned.

I do not understand 60-75 meetings that, more than anything else, drain lives.  It seems like an intentionally poor practice of stewardship!

  • My wish is for thoughtful, credible, action oriented meetings that involve items that need action, or critical players to "vote" and intentionally collaborate together.
  • My wish is also for non-meeting events of genuine conversation, dialogue, getting-to-know-people and discerning personalities, hobbies, life-pursuits.
  •  And . . . ineffective meetings of extended time that require no action and which deliver no social camaraderie of meaningful depth . . . I wish your nonexistence in my future!

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