There are a lot of books and articles on both knowledge transfer and a lot more on how to conduct a productive meetings (“Death by Meeting” is one of my personal favorites).
We have all been there. The weekly meeting with you giving updates to your boss and your boss giving you guidance on what to do. Have you stop to think about the exchange that is going on during that period of time. Probably not for most of us.
Knowledge transfers from tacit to tacit in a meeting and sometimes tacit to explicit (if executive summaries or notes are kept). With the current environment of working from home and the utilization of digital tools (to include some AI) to assist with decision-making. One must look at the actual contents, and data that is being used that will assist with the decisions as an output of the meeting.
Having been in the military I have seen a lot of successful meetings and a lot more unsuccessful ones. Below are five tips to make a successful meeting:
- Only hold meetings that need to be held. Yes it is okay to cancel a meeting.
- Is there new information to discuss? Are there collaborations that need to take place where a broader audience can provide input? Is the decision made at the meeting going to affect multiple departments within the organization?
- If just one or two people can solve the issue then it would be more appropriate to do an ad hoc meeting with just those individuals or resolve the issue and allow the rest of the team to go about doing their jobs without “wasting” their time with another meeting.
- Have an agenda and stick to it.
- Having a set agenda will set the tone of the meeting, and gives outcomes and focuses the discussions to the topics.
- Try not to go down “rabbit holes” of discussions. This waste everyone’s time and in turn will result in lower attendance in meetings in the future. It is a good idea for “brain-storming sessions” to think about possible courses of action as well as possible outcomes. But these types of meetings need to be set apart from a working group or a decision-based type of meeting.
- Have a meeting process map established for your organization.
- This way the entire organization know where to present new ideas or topics and how to get it in front of decision makers.
- This process map should include, not only the BPMN but the format for the meeting (PowerPoint templates, Word Documents, OneNote, PowerBI, Dashboards, Whiteboards, etc.) as well as the players involved with the process.
- Have a charter or “7-Minute Drill” for the meeting and have it as your introduction.
- The Charter or 7-Minute Drill should have the purpose of the meeting, the location/time, who needs to be in attendance, what information is needed to hold the meeting and where the information/decisions of this meeting go to, where to find the minutes/executive summary for the meeting. A sample 7 Minute Drill is located below.
- This can be shown at the start of the meeting as a reminder of why the participants of the meeting are there and where they need to focus their conversations.
- White space on calendars are important
- I have seen some Senior Executives and General Officers block off their white space where they can focus on their job per their job description. Personally, this is a good practice to get into. Blocking off time allows others to see when you need your focus time to do your job.
- If you follow the first part of this make sure you also have white space on the calendar where you are available to take on meetings or other conversations. If not utilized you can still do your work.