I recently finished Read This Before Our Next Meeting, a great short book explaining how to re-purpose our traditional meetings into those that are concise, thorough and purposeful.
The message of the books rings to many concepts we've heard around from the likes of Seth Godin and the 37 Signals crew. Have a purpose, do your homework and make decisive decisions and stop stalling/wasting time.
Al Pittampalli introduces his concept of the "modern meeting" with the basic premiss that a meeting has only two reasons for being, to resolve conflict or coordinate efforts. At the core of it any meetings purpose is to support a decision that has already been made.
I really liked Al's point that today our use of "meeting" has really grown to encompass so many different activities, and thus everything is now regarded as a "meeting". When in fact so many things fall into the other two categories he delves into of a conversation or a brainstorm.
Al explains the idea that the burden of the meeting preparation goes onto the shoulders of the organizer. Not that participants shouldn't be prepared but its up to the organizer to do the leg work that will provide enough information and background to make a decision before the meeting begin. Then the actual meeting time can be used to communicate the reasoning for that decision and address any questions or concerns.
Overall the book can be boiled down to:
- Have an agenda
- Stick to your time limit
- Only invite those that are absolutely needed
- Do your homework
I enjoyed it and it's worth the very quick read. All in all, stop stalling with meetings, take decisive action and move on, communicating as needed.