A meeting is a gathering of people convened for the purpose of achieving a common goal through verbal interaction, such as sharing information or reaching agreement. Meetings are expensive – in preparing, resourcing, reporting, recording and especially in opportunity cost. Four senior people meeting for an hour rack up a cost above $1,000. This expense should be justified by wiser outcomes and error avoidance, generally resulting from debate and the pooling of expertise, experience, knowledge and judgment. But bad or unproductive meetings are wasteful, demotivating and risky. Check out this horror!

In earlier posts, we have focused on the characteristics of good governance and the performing board. Today I narrow down to the individual participant. I want to pose to readers a New Year’s resolution: After every meeting, I will critique my own contribution. Did I add value?

Let me count the ways!

  • Stay current with organization’s situation, environment, opportunities and threats.
  • Prepare thoroughly – rule of thumb is 1-2 hours of reading, analyzing and thinking time for every meeting hour.
  • Enquire beforehand if cannot understand.
  • Prepare your points and focus your role / contribution for each matter – is it to be support, development or critique?
  • Be tough on the issues but easy on the people.
  • Debate constructively by building rather than negating.
  • But be brave enough to combat GroupThink.
  • Concentrate – turn off interruption.
  • Show openness, encouragement, attention and energy by body language.
  • Respect your colleagues and their strengths – complementary and often more relevant to the issue. The team is generally wiser than any individual.
  • Speak sparingly. Dominating = irritating.
  • Be a calm, confident voice of reason, realism and risk recognition.
  • Support the development of SMART strategies and plans.
  • Remember meetings and governance itself are social constructs formed to achieve a common goal.
  • And that each achieved goal brings nearer the Purpose of the Organization.

The IOD’s Four Pillars, as always, has hard-won and practical wisdom on this subject, including “Always remind yourself that you are there to add value.  Any director should be motivated by the desire to add value to the boardroom and the organization. Self-reflection after the meeting is recommended”.

While Dilbert offers a cynical shortcut……….