Do you spend meeting time persuading or making robust decisions?

31st March 2014

I work with large organisations  to develop more productive, creative and engaging meeting culture. I am noticing an interesting pattern in some organisations where meetings seem to be used to just get sign off or approval. In these organisations, huge amounts of time is spent preparing presentations, with masses of extra slides ‘just in case’, so that junior members of staff can persuade senior members of staff that their ideas are sound and worthy of execution.

This persuasion-style meeting culture results in endless meetings, like beauty parades, with presentation after presentation. Apart from the fact that most human beings cannot effectively assimilate the vast volumes of information being presented in this kind of meeting, which leads to poor decision making, they are also really dull!!!

The alternative is a meeting culture focussed on making robust decisions. In this environment, there is clarity of decision making process and meetings are focussed on making decisions where collaboration is required. Collaborative decision making is most effective in complex situations where multiple dimensions need to be considered. In this type of meeting the key is to have the right people in the room, so ensure that nothing is being missed, and emphasis is on the group making the decision.

The upside of the robust decision making culture, is people only attend meetings where their views really count, and they feel valued in these meetings because they are engaged and involved. It seems bonkers that so many large organisations fall into the persuasion meeting culture – it’s not helpful to the bottom line or staff morale.