Do you see meetings as a necessary chore to ensure you know what’s going on, or do you see them as “system to produce effective actions” for improvement?

This month our MD, Martin Gummery, shares his views on structuring meetings like a “system”. Martin is a leader in Systems Thinking and has brought practical systems thinking solutions to blue chip organisations over the past 30 years.

Meetings are an everyday occurrence in both large and small organisations. We get used to going to them and often, we don’t look at the effectiveness of the meetings we attend. They become routine and bad habits start to creep into the process.

If you add up the hours that managers and others spend in meetings, it is a massive investment that an organisation makes and unfortunately, in many cases, the output of those meetings is a long way short of effective.

Meetings should be seen as a system, (a process) like a machine that produces something, which in this case is appropriate designed outputs. Systems have inputs, outputs, clear purpose, are owned by someone, have feedback loops and effective means to transfer those inputs into outputs.

If we see meetings as systems, then we start to manage them more effectively. Regular meetings should be part of a series of meetings that occur over a period of time in an organisation. All of these meetings should be connected in a way that focusses them all in the same direction, the organisation’s Objectives and Strategies.

A Meeting as a System

The above diagram is highlighting the components and the meeting leader’s thoughts on controlling the outputs (objectives). The leader of the meeting should be the feedback loop continually monitoring the discussion and action outputs ensuring that the meeting is shifting towards meeting its overall purpose and objectives.

Like designing a work system, the meeting system should be designed in a similar way.

Seeing meetings as a system will help you eliminate:

  • Attending over long meetings
  • Having meetings with an unclear process
  • Unclear outcomes and actions
  • Personal attacks on others
  • Meetings becoming a “free for all” where attendees air their views and opinions on anything.

Good meetings can be the hub of communication and direction for day-to-day and long-term strategy, so meetings are very important. However, if not run effectively they just don’t have the impact on the business that they should.

Meetings need to have structure, discipline and be led with the appropriate style, where not only the knowledge of how to run a meeting is covered but also coaching and facilitating meetings is a key skill that needs to be practised and, in terms of style, the right attitudes and the right disciplines are required to run the meeting well.

Get in touch, if you want to know more, we love to chat about systems thinking and business improvement.

Martin Gummery

Tel: 07885 824 901