Are you driving your meetings into a ditch? December 2, 2012Posted by Jason in Management.
Tags: Behavior, Meetings, Time
As a consultant, I help managers and front-line supervisors to achieve their myriad, sometimes conflicting, corporate goals. Usually, in the mining environment, this relates to daily production rates – how many trucks, how much rock, how many tons processed and sold. Despite mining’s many inherent challenges of geology, mechanical breakdowns, and logistics, seasoned professionals have seen most of them before. One of the largest barriers to improvement isn’t any of these, rather, it is the staff itself – sometimes an individual, but often a corporate culture that has become bogged down in habit – a habit of bad meetings.
One of the first things we do on a site is examine meeting effectiveness. We use the 5-P model, modified to fit our particular clients’ needs. Our model requires that each meeting have:
In short, we want clear outcomes (for the meeting itself and the longer term strategy), the right people, a clear agenda, and enough preparation that no one is receiving important information “cold turkey”.
But there is another, sneakier way that meetings can be hijacked. This article illustrates another “P” – one that you DON’T want to have if you want to get things done. PLOT stands for Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. It states that more time is spent discussing low-impact issues simply because they are more familiar and controllable. Bigger, more important issues are given mere minutes due to complexity and a tendency to trust the ‘experts’, while low value ‘bike sheds’ consume hours.
Though intended as a spoof, indeed there is likely some behavioral science behind this (Dan Ariely, are you reading this?). We know that people can act quite irrationally when emotionally involved with an issue. And if there’s anything that meetings seem to be especially good at, it is the nurturing of irrationality.