The traditional meeting has held us hostage for too long. It’s wasted our time, energy, and drained from us the aliveness that makes work exciting and fulfilling. And for our organizations, the traditional meeting gets in the way of important decisions that need to be made for forward momentum. It forces our organization to walk, when we all have the burning desire to run.
Long live the modern meeting:
1. The Modern Meeting supports a decision that has already been made.
If a decision maker needs advisement pre-decision, he should get it from others via one-on-one conversations. Only after a preliminary decision is made can a meeting be convened. A meeting might be necessary for either of two reasons:
Conflict: The relevant stakeholders can debate the decision, propose alternatives, suggest modifications, or have concerns addressed. The decision is ultimately resolved.
Coordination: If a decision demands complex collaboration from different people, teams or departments, stakeholders can convene to coordinate an action plan.
2. The Modern Meeting starts on time, moves fast, and ends on schedule.
The Modern Meeting enforces firm meeting end times to ensure that the resolution and implementation of decisions aren’t delayed needlessly. The meeting ends, a decision is resolved and participants get back to work. If you are late, we will start without you. And we won’t invite you next time.
3. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees.
Only people who are critical to the outcome are invited to a Modern Meeting. Small numbers allow decisions to be resolved quickly and plans to be coordinated smoothly. If invited attendees recognize that they don’t need to be there, it’s their obligation to decline.
4. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared.
An agenda is distributed well in advance of a Modern Meeting, and it establishes the decision being debated or the action being coordinated. The Modern Meeting demands you think carefully through all the different scenarios presented by the decision and come up with thoughtful responses. We will call on you. If you are not prepared, do not attend.
5. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans.
What actions are we committing to? Who is responsible for each action? When will those actions be completed? The Modern Meeting ensures that these questions are answered, and distributes the resulting action plan soon after the meeting ends. It’s the meeting leader’s responsibility to follow up and hold participants accountable for their commitments.If no action plan is necessary, neither is a meeting.
6. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.
In order to keep modern meetings strictly in support of decisions, informational meetings are cancelled. For this to be possible, managers will write memos instead, but everyone must commit to reading them. In a culture of reading, informational meetings are no longer necessary.
7. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.
The Modern Meeting is about decision, the narrowing of options. Brainstorming is the necessary complement, as it results in the mass generation of options. Brainstorming has to be done correctly, though. It’s an anti-meeting, so the regular rules of the Modern Meeting don’t apply.