Two Different Views on Meetings

Two weeks from tomorrow, our 2011-12 academic year will begin once again. In addition to classes and partnering with students and faculty, this will mean a series of meetings. Don’t get me wrong, it is essential to get groups of folks together so that progress can be made towards shared goals and initiative, but for me, there are times that these gatherings take time away from other tasks which require my time, energy, and attention.

This past week, two different suggestions as to how to rethink these gatherings were published that resonate with me. The first is the new book from Seth Godin’s Domino Project, Read This Before Your Next Meeting. This volume is available for free on Amazon until August 9th. In this volume. Al Pittampali outlines what the new modern meeting should look like, one which agendas are shared ahead of time, a decision has been made, and the purpose of the meeting is to build an action plan for the decision. There is a complimentary gathering which is needed, the brainstorming session. But the gathering as an information sharing session is out the window. These gatherings are active and require that everyone come prepared and no one wastes anyone’s precious time.

The second was shared by Ryan Bretag, the Instructional Technology Coordinator for Glenbrook North High School. Ryan is one of the most brilliant thinkers I know. In one of his recent blog posts on his blog, Metonia, NO SIT – Rethinking Faculty Meetings, Ryan outlines his goals and outlines for the way he wants to run faculty meetings. Again, the focus is not on announcement sharing, but building community, developing creativity, sharing best practices, and involving students.

To me, these are the types of meetings that would energize and excite me. Ones which action are the purpose. In both cases, agendas and necessary resources are shared ahead, to provide time for thought and reflection before the gathering. Announcements are shared in the form of memos, rather than spoken. Both cultivate a culture of being on time and ready to participate, not to sit and get.

I am hopeful that I will be able to adopt these ideas into practice this upcoming year. The result, hopefully, will be that instead of groans and eye rolling when a meeting is announced, that attendees will be excited and anxious to attend. I look forward to sharing the results with you throughout the year.

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