Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meeting About a Meeting

When I was a co-op student I heard about a manager who held a meeting to prepare for a meeting.  It was an infinite source of amusement for myself, the other co-ops working at the same oil company, and my friends.  A meeting about a meeting seemed to be the penultimate bureaucratic time-waster.  Hah!  We would all be much smater and more efficient when we became managers.

Today, I do the same thing.  I cringe every time I do it, but sometimes it's just necessary.  Getting the right folks on board, getting commitment before meeetings, and getting agreement on key issues before a public discussion is crucial to the success of managing complex problems.  You don't want to argue publicly in front of the wrong folks.  You don't want the meeting to become an opportunity for grandstanding.  You do want to get something done with the minimum fuss and bother.

To ease your agenda into play, management becomes an act of diplomacy.  Educate folks on the issues before asking them to make a decision.  Socialize new concepts among the affected parties before asking for commitment of resources.  We need to work with colleauges prior to a decision-making event like a meeting to ensure there is common understanding and shared enthusiasm.  Spending time managing the politics of an issue is just as important as managing the content of the issue.

So if you do it right, sometimes a meeting about a meeting can be penultimate anti-bureaucratic time-saver.


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