Saturday, May 07, 2011

Marathon meetings part II

Thinking more about running marathon meetings - by which I mean the kind of meetings that run for days. I admit that I haven’t had opportunities to put these ideas into practice – and its always easy to be a critic. But I have had training in group facilitation and have sat through many meetings, good and bad and have been thinking quite a lot about what makes them so.

Continued from yesterday, here are few more ideas I’ve had. Your feedback is welcome.

6) Speaking of which, there should be multiple ways to provide feedback during marathon meetings. Meetings are typically characterized by the mind-numbing boredom of the same format for each session - often involving people presenting reports, in some cases reports that participants have already read, followed by verbal discussions dominated by the same few people. Break-out sessions can work, especially for brain-storming type work, and can help draw input from those who tend to be silent. There could be opportunities for written feedback, quick questionnaires, etc.

7) Shared creative activity can go a long way in fostering a positive atmosphere. While perhaps not as easy to plan as break-out sessions or questionnaires, finding a way to bring creative activities into a marathon meeting could be instrumental in improving morale and generating positive, creative ideas.

8) Be aware of the time of day during which different topics are introduced. I read a fascinating, but sobering, study done on the likelihood that a judge grants parole to applicants depending on at what time of day the application is brought forward. Essentially the study found that the odds of a prisoner receiving parole dropped dramatically the further the hearing was from the judge’s break. Meeting agendas should take into consideration the ebb and flow of energy levels – and make sure the most important things are addressed in prime periods.

Basically, I think what it comes down to for me is the need to focus more the people and relationships, and less on the items of an agenda. I recognize that there is work to be done, but surely a little creativity and attention to energy and mood could help get this work done more efficiently.

1 comment:

  1. "I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees."
    Gilbert K. Chesterton

    Better than making these meetings better. Can they simply be eliminated?