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Meetings. Meetings. Meetings. Meetings.

Posted Mar 04 2009 2:55pm

Big health care management problem:

It is certain that every organization has too many meetings, and far too many poorly designed ones. The main reason we don’t make meetings more productive is that we don’t value our time properly. The people who call meetings and those who attend them are not thinking about time as their most valuable resource.

- Reid Hastie, Professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business via Signal vs. Noise

The number of meetings is an in-house decision, but health care organizations likely have far, far too many.  The organization where managers and executives float from meeting to meeting all day is not a rare occurrence.  As far as the design problem, here is Seth Godin’s solution:

There are only three kinds of classic meetings:

  1. Information. This is a meeting where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it’s primarily designed to inform.
  2. Discussion. This is a meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
  3. Permission. This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.

PLEASE don’t confuse them. Confused meeting types are the number one source of meeting ennui. One source of confusion is that a meeting starts as one sort of meeting and then magically morphs into another kind. The reason this is frightening is that one side or the other might not realize that’s actually occurring. If it does, stop and say, “Thanks for the discussion. Let me state what we’ve just agreed on and then we can go ahead and approve it, okay?”

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