Five Rules To Fix Your Dysfunctional Meetings

by Mar 12, 2021Method

Last week, I attended an international virtual conference during which we were introduced to an inspiring method for organizing and running a meeting.

At the beginning of the session, the facilitator shared the following rules:

1 – Whoever comes are the right people.

2 – Wherever it is, is the right place

3 – Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.

4 – Whenever it starts is the right time.

5 – Whenever it’s over, it’s over.

We were a group of 12 people, and we worked on solutions to create more purpose-driven organizations. I didn’t know any of the participants before the meeting. But this turned into one of the most fun and efficient 45-minute work session I’ve experienced.

So, I thought the concept would be worth trying on my own. Today, I facilitated a meeting with a client following the identical framework, and the work was just awesome.

The approach generated increased safety, trust, respect and listening. Not to mentioned, we got through a big list of topics, some quite difficult.

Now, I am sharing these five rules with you because who runs meetings that don’t need a smidge of extra engagement and efficiency?

This concept is called Open Space Technology, and you can find more details about it in a Wikipedia article that explains it much better than I would. There is even a book about it by Harrison Owen, the inventor. Both provide more context and information about the ideal conditions to use it.

In researching this concept, I found valuable comments about each of the four rules. I am adding them below. You may think your organization is not ready for such rules. But they may still give you some ideas to fix your meetings and evolve towards more flexible and more meaningful ways of working.

1 – Whoever comes are the right people

…reminds participants that they don’t need the CEO and 100 people to get something done. You need people who care.

2 – Wherever it is, is the right place

…reminds participants that space is opening everywhere all the time.

3 – Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened

…reminds participants that once something has happened, it’s done—and no amount of fretting, complaining or otherwise rehashing can change that. Move on. The agenda of the meeting emerges, more like a living thing.

4 – Whenever it starts is the right time

…reminds participants that “spirit and creativity do not run on the clock.”

5 – Whenever it’s over, it’s over.

…reminds participants that we never know how long it will take to resolve an issue, once raised, but that whenever the issue or work or conversation is finished, move on to the next thing. Don’t keep rehashing just because there are 30 minutes left in the session. Do the work, not the time.

My goal is to help you turn your organization into a source of inspiration that few can resist.

I hope this is a start.

Happy Friday!

Guillaume

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