How to Run Effective Business Meetings

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Scenario: "Dude, to have the most effective meetings: We'll just let everybody talk about what they want to talk about. Then we'll have the most efficient meetings in the universe. Yay!" Blah. Here's really how to run an efficient meeting: Before the meeting starts, ensure everybody fully knows the facts about each topic that your team will discuss.

A Microcosm of Most Business Meetings

It's Friday -- say you have a meeting today for your video-game shop. You're wondering how you can (1) sell more Xboxes and (2) implement Six Sigma into your organization. You go in, and talk to your peeps. What happens?
  1. You: Let's talk about Xboxes!
  2. Andy: Yay! Xbox uses a 233 MHz custom graphics processor, so gamers everywhere will love how smooth it'll be.
  3. Bob: Correct. Xbox is a sixth generation era video game console. Adults will love it.
  4. Cassie: Rock on! With its memory at 64 MB DDR SDRAM clocked at 200 MHz, Xbox will attract them to how fast they can enjoy their games.
  5. You: What about Six Sigma?
  6. Andy: Six Sigma is with that black-belt/green-belt crap, right? Fads!
  7. Bob: Yeah, it sucks. It's just a buzz word. Next!
  8. Cassie: Yeah, it's stupid.

How a Meeting Goes Wrong

You want to be the "good" manager that gets everyone involved. You encourage everyone to speak. But, the meeting really gets its juices from -- you guessed it: Xbox. Then when you try to switch the group conversation to Six Sigma, your team members will either give BS/inaccurate answers based on "what sounds good" -- just so they could look good in front of the group.

How Knowing Nothing Hurts

When a majority of your team members know more about certain thing, they'll subconsciously hijack the meeting to talk extensively about that topic. Then when the meeting conversation turns to topics that are more obscure to the group, they'll give faulty assessments to those topics -- which may be equally or more important to your company. And, if your company acts on the faulty advice/info, guess what: potentially disastrous results for your company.

It's In the Study

In a study conducted by University of Wisconsin's James Larson, small teams of three medical students and interns diagnosed two hypothetical cases:
(1) Knowledge of some symptoms was shared among all team members, while (2) only a few doctors knew other facts. Subjects discussed shared information first and foremost--and the less subjects pooled information, the less accurate their diagnosis.
According to Larson:
After a period of discussion, group members begin to feel they have enough information to make a decision. If that point comes before all the unshared information has been raised, there is a danger they will commit a decision-making error.
So when you're preparing for your meeting today, Monday, or whatever messed-up day you have your meeting:

Before the meeting, ensure each and every freakin' team member knows the brutal freakin' facts about each and every freakin' topic.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

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Posted on October 20

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