You know that sound you hear right before the bathtub completely drains, that noise of water being sucked into the drain pipe?
That’s the sound you hear at the end of a meeting that didn’t produce meaningful results. It’s your colleague’s time and energy being sucked down the drain.
I know you don’t like your time wasted. I don’t either.
If you call a meeting, you better make sure you aren’t the problem. Your meeting has to be worth the time you’re asking people to give to your issue. There are three simple things you can do to make sure that it is.
1. Have a meaningful goal
Stephen Covey popularized the habit, “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s the practice that should drive your meeting plan.
Think in terms of tangible results. What will your group have in hand at the meeting’s end that it didn’t have at the beginning? Some worthwhile goals might include:
- A decision
- A process map
- A problem statement
- Shared understanding
- A plan
- A recommendation
Think in terms of products. Your meeting’s a machine that creates something people want. What will that product be, and why does it matter that you create it?
2. Have a plan for reaching your goal
You know what you want to produce. Now you need to figure out how to do it.
You need to a clear plan for moving from the beginning to your desired end. Ideally your plan consumes as little time and energy as possible. Doing more with less is all the rage these days.
The best way to evaluate your plan is to judge its likelihood of helping your group reach its goal. It should address all the “What if…” questions and focus the group’s energy on why it came together in the first place.
3. Convert your meeting product into action
Even the most meaningful meeting goal doesn’t have value until you do something with it.
At the heart of any enterprise, value is created by serving customers. While your meeting may help you figure out how to better serve those customers, no service actually happens during the meeting. It happens later.
That means your meeting products are handed off to the people who need them so they can take the actions that produce your organization’s value.
When you successfully complete the meeting, your work isn’t quite finished yet. Make sure it results in meaningful action.