Terrible Meeting Syndrome

TMS “Terrible Meeting Syndrome” – does your company suffer from it?

 “We need to reach a decision!”

“What are the facts?”

“Why has our customer base shrunk?”

 

These and many other similar statements are made hundreds of times, in countless meetings all over the world.

So do we see the corresponding answers emerging?

“Well, that’s a satisfactory decision, I’m glad we have come to a conclusion”.

“Well now we know what the issues are we can find solutions”.

“It seems the thing we have been doing is alienating our customers and we need to address that”.

 

NO!

Too often the meeting gets bogged down in meaningless discussion. People struggle to get their point across and it’s hard to see how the real question is being addressed.

This presents a dismal picture and not all meetings are like this, so what makes the difference between a good meeting and a poor one?

There is no evidence that groups/teams that have been together longer are any better than others – in fact they can be worse – with familiarity breeding bad behaviour. Certainly it is not a matter of ‘control’, although a good and authoritative ‘Chair’ can ensure that people behave themselves appropriately.

It is unlikely that time will be a significant factor – giving groups longer or shorter time doesn’t do anything to improve decision-making. In fact the opposite is probably true – reducing the length of a meeting just means that decisions or issues are rushed and ill considered. Taking longer makes people indulgent of the time they waste.

 

So what does make the difference?

 

It has a lot to do with the nature of the question.

If the question, the agenda topic, the task is in ‘Uncertainty’ it is likely to be extremely difficult to tackle. ‘Uncertainty’ means that even the question is unclear – so it will be virtually impossible to find. Meetings where there is uncertainty will struggle. Indeed, Uncertainty takes 4.5 times the time that Certainty requires.

 

It has a lot to do with ‘Process’.

Tackling a task that is in Uncertainty without any ‘Process’ is like climbing a vertical rock or mountaineering face without any equipment, virtually impossible.

 

So what is Process?

Process is the Format and the Models, Tools and Techniques that help tackle the task. Using the metaphor of rock climbing/mountaineering – the ‘Format’ is the organisation of the people: one at the top holding the ropes, one the bottom, keeping things steady and calling out the route to the climbers en route to the summit.

 

In our meeting we can:

-       All: all work alone (and think privately) about the issues

-       All to One: work together sharing our thoughts into the middle

-       Groups: work in sub groups, tackling different aspects of the task

-       One to All: have one person speak to everyone

Each has a rationale and its advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right one for each aspect of the Task will help achieve success.

 

But what about equipment on our ‘climb’?

Good climbers have the best and right equipment. They don’t use oxygen on a rock face and they don’t use flat climbing shoes on snow. They select the appropriate equipment for the conditions.

 

So, it is the same in our meetings we have to use the most appropriate model, tool or technique depending on the nature of the task. If we are trying to prioritise and come to a decision there are a range of tools we could use – but one will be more appropriate than other depending on the situation.

 

How can MultiWall Connect help?

Multiwall Connect has an inbuilt range of models, tools and techniques from which to choose depending on the task at hand. Using smart devices (phones, tablets, laptops etc.) different Formats can be applied. Notes can be prepared beforehand and only sent when required (All). Everyone can send their notes as they create them (All to One). Someone can submit notes on behalf of the meeting (One to All) and different stakeholders can be allocated different colours (Group).

 

The models, tools and techniques are available by simply selecting one. It then acts as a ‘back drop’ to all the notes that can be moved around by touch or mouse. By saving the screen the meeting can record what they have done and move on to the next stage using another tool, adding more notes and again saving the outcomes.

 

This makes meetings much more effective, efficient and productive and ensures people’s co-operation and engagement.

 

In addition because MultiWall Connect works via a server on the internet, anyone from anywhere can submit their thoughts and ideas and view the data on either their PC/laptop or on a multi-touch screen.

 

Let’s end the terrible meeting syndrome. Every Task should have a Process so that the task can be progressed and an outcome achieved. Multiwall Connect has a valid part to play in this.

 

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