Why do we have meetings ? What is the meeting purpose? In this article I look at the role a meeting should play and how to tell a healthy one from an unhealthy one.
Meeting together is nothing new, since very early times humans have gathered together to plan and review their joint activities. No-one goes hunting without at least having some plan – even if it’s an agreement not to hunt each other!
Meetings are rarely just for the sake of it – they are to achieve something that any individual person would find hard to achieve on their own.
So, for me the purpose of meetings is to coordinate action.
Let’s break that down.
Firstly “purpose” – every meeting should have clear purpose, an objective, something we wish to achieve. Without a purpose we are simply meeting for the sake of meeting, which in business terms is unlikely to make anyone a profit .
Second, “coordinate” – every meeting has a particular dynamic that results in a jointly agreed outcome. Whether formally “voted” on or not, each agreed action is effectively approved by the participants in the meeting. This is why in formal settings, meetings have to be quorate, with a minimum number of people present.
Coordinate is used to imply that the different implications of a particular action, have at least been thought through, from the differing perspectives of the meeting attendees, to come to a ‘best case’ approach.
Finally, “action” – as a result of the meeting something should then happen. It might be that all members of the meeting agree to take a particular action (union members balloting to strike for example) or that individual participants have promised to ‘follow-up’, by completing a task given to them in the meeting.
If you want to know if you are in a healthy meeting or not, then ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this meeting have a clear purpose? Do I know why we are all here?
- Is this meeting helping to coordinate us? Are the right people here to ensure the purpose can be achieved?
- Do actions arising from this meeting actually happen? Is anyone following up, does everyone know what they are meant to be doing?