Organizational Development Consultant

Meetings as Transformation Tools

September 7, 2013

“I hate meetings, but I think I’m going to have to resort to them. This change project is going nowhere. I need to get everyone on the same page, or I think this project is doomed. How can I make my meetings ‘mission critical’ and a break from the past? “

What is it?
Meetings are a common part in organizational life. But most of them are underutilized at best, and a complete waste of time at their worst. However, when used correctly, meetings are a powerful mechanism for expressing ideas, gathering information, making decisions and communicating changes.

Meetings have many purposes and roles during the change process. Examples include:

  • Leadership Team Meetings: to define and implement strategy, and manage the cross-functional aspects of an organization.
  • Team Meetings: regularly scheduled meetings designed to communicate and discuss top issues impacting a specific team or teams.
  • Executive Steering Group Meetings: to provide governance for a specific project or group of projects.
  • ‘Town Hall’ Meetings: a special event/meeting bringing large groups of stakeholders into a room to communicate and gain feedback on a specific topic.
  • Focus Groups: meetings designed to test reactions and gather information from a small group of individuals representing one or more stakeholder or customer groups.

One of the most powerful components of any meeting is the use of Next Steps – determining ‘who does what by when’ to move progress forward, and then following up to confirm actions have been achieved.

When do you use it?
When you need a group of two or more people to work together to achieve a common goal or objective.

How do you use it?

Define the purpose and measures of success of your meeting.

Determine the frequency and participation.

Determine the owner of the meeting, and if necessary, the facilitator.

Plan your meetings in advance to ensure that the agenda and expected outcomes are clear, and presenters and participants are prepared.

Typical pre-meeting preparation questions include:

  • What do you want to accomplish in the meeting?
  • What are the persons you are meeting with expecting to accomplish in the meeting? How to make expectations clear?
  • What materials do you need to bring to the meeting?
  • What materials should be sent in advance off the meeting?
  • What concerns or issues will the person/s you are meeting likely to have? How can you proactively address these concerns?
  • What do you need from the persons in the meeting? i.e. support, a decision, etc. How can you make sure that each person is clear about what is expected of them?

Follow up after your meeting to document and distribute highlights of the meeting including decisions, key issues and next steps (Who does What by When).

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