An extreme way to keep committee meetings short, taking away the chairs could make it even shorter!
Hands up if you’ve ever been to a committee meeting that:
- a) bored you to tears
- b) over ran by more than an hour
- c) did not resolve any of the agenda items
OK, now hands down! Unfortunately poor meeting management is not confined to club committees, it is rife throughout business and really should be addressed.
How do some of the big names tackle this?
Nissan – No minutes, everything relevant is written on a whiteboard, this is photographed at the end and distributed to all attendees.
Google – Discussion on a topic are limited to 10 minutes, decision making meetings limited to 10 people
Canon – no chairs or computers
Mitsubishi – you must reach a conclusion within an hour
I admire these companies for their approach. Each of the above methods helps to focus the mind and whilst as clubs, we may not feel any one approach is suitable for us, an understanding of the benefits of each may help us to deliver more effective meetings in the future.
Nissan – no minutes. This actually helps to engage all the meeting attendees if done well. It also frees up the Secretary to engage and get involved rather than remembering to make a note of all relevant points. If each attendee has a set of post-it notes, when an item is discussed and agreed upon the instigator or secretary can jot down the action and outcome and stick on the board.
Google – discussion limited to 10 minutes. This should encourage the topic owner to do their homework, prepare relevant notes/props and to have set the scene with attendees prior to the meeting. As a meeting attendee if I have received a short email outlining a topic on the agenda, a brief background and any relevant stats, I am far better prepared with my questions. This then helps to keep preliminaries to a minimum and allows attendees to ask pertinent and relevant questions. This does however rely on a strong chairperson to manage time and ensure conclusions are reached in a timely fashion.
Google – decision making meetings limited to 10 people. This is where sub committees should be utilised fully. The small sub-committee can make decisions which are then presented to the full committee for ratification. It is extremely difficult to get decisions from a large and potentially disparate group with different areas of responsibility within the club.
Canon – no chairs. OK so realistically if it’s a full committee meeting (or immediately after a hard training session!) we will need seats. But say you have pulled a group together for a briefing or to make one quick decision. Try doing this within an area with no chairs and you WILL be surprised at the speed of the decision.
Canon – no computers. Now within the loose definition of computers let’s add in Blackberrys, iPhones and Smart Phones. There is nothing more distracting than discussing a topic whilst your neighbour is completing an email or playing with their latest App. There is also a tendency for some to continually refer to the internet to answer questions that arise in the meeting – what date is the next league meeting?- “I’ll Google that now”. Keep things technology free and your meeting will progress with less interruptions and more focus.
Mitsubishi – you must reach a conclusion within an hour. This tells us to assess our agenda. if we can’t complete it within an hour could we shorten the agenda? Is the committee taking on too much and should there be sub-committees to take on some of the responsibilities. Are our attendees prepared with full visibility of the agenda in advance? Does the chairman manage the meeting to start on time (cut the small talk) and manage each item? Do we ban any other business from our agendas (after all does this just show a lack of preparation from the proposer?)
So next time you’re invited to a committee meeting, or better still chairing a meeting remember the standing penguins out in the cold and see if you can encourage “a little less conversation and a little more action” PLEASE.