The product of an effective meeting leaves the room in the changed attitudes, understanding and intentions of its attendees. And pursuing these intentions serves to reinforce the attitudes and understanding.
But it is the intentions that are often the most fragile – back in the real world they tend to evaporate in the heat of the day to day and can easily be forgotten if they are not written down. Read More
It is therefore vitally important to use the end of the meeting to embed them and secure them in a way that they do not disappear.
Ensure each intention is clearly defined: What is to be delivered (to what quality); by when; and by whom. Perversely, even though this is a key step in ensuring the value of a meeting, this can be a real struggle and it sometimes seems that people would rather leave the meeting with vague actions than commit themselves to taking responsibility for outcomes and timescales.
But where actions are left vague in terms of timescale or responsibility, this has a big negative impact on progress between meetings, and therefore on the number of meetings required to make progress.
People sometimes miss the point that a decision made in a meeting is relatively useless if people are not actually committed to implementing that decision.
Where commitment is lacking, it is not uncommon that the actions required to put a decision into practice drag out across multiple follow up meetings – deadlines slip and interdependencies are not supported when they need to be. Read More
But what do we actually mean by commitment, and how do we ensure that level of commitment? Commitment can be a vague term, and at various time we discover it can mean a range of things as described by the list on the right. However, only the lower items on the list represent any certainty of progress.
To ensure the right levels of commitment, it is important to ensure each person nominated for an action personally accepts the responsibility and has the opportunity to state any reservations and flag up any support or resources required. If reservations are raised, ensure that adjustments are made to meet those reservations or to the action itself until there is clear confidence and commitment to delivery.
A useful mechanism to check confidence and commitment is the £500 bet. Asking people whether they would be willing to bet their own money on a successful outcome is a great way to surface reservations and issues.
But what of actions that are allocated to people outside of the meeting? We would recommend that actions should never be set on people outside of the meeting, only taken by people within the meeting. They may need to work with others to deliver them – but it is their responsibility to ensure that happens.
If you are finding that your meetings lack that commitment from your participants, Inspirometer users can access tools and techniques to address this at: https://my.inspirometer.com/preview/meeting_clinic#8
More often than not, whatever the reasons given in the meeting, the primary factor in lack of progress between meetings is ‘I was not sufficiently committed to make progress and/or face the hassle of highlighting and resolving the issues as and when they arose‘, or alternatively ‘I encountered an obstacle which seemed to me to present a sufficiently valid excuse for me to get on with other things instead‘. Read More
That may sound harsh, and to be fair it is not always true, but the reality is that these attitudes (in others AND in ourselves) are far more common than we like to admit.
Inspirometer users can access other related tools at: https://my.inspirometer.com/preview/meeting_clinic#3
Use the model below to develop a vision for how you want your meetings to be different going forward, and then research the resources above to develop a coherent plan for how you plan to bring about improvement.
For a selection of resources which support ‘action’, please go to: https://help.inspirometer.com/tag/action/