Meeting Déjà Vu

Does it sometimes feel like déjà vu when you walk into a meeting at your company?   Do you think to yourself, “Hey! I’ve heard this conversation before. Why we are talking about it again?”  Is your company tackling the same problems week after week, using the same people, and sitting in the same meeting room?

 As an exercise, ask yourself this question, “What percentage of our current problems from this year were also problems last year?”  If our experience serves as a guide, we can confidently say that 80% of the problems you have this year were also around last year.  Looking forward, we can then project that 80% of next year’s problems will come from this year. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we solved the 20%, but there are often cases where problems may solve themselves (e.g. problem employees voluntarily leave, foreign currency fluctuations flip from having negative to positive effects).

It’s sometimes surprising to see how there are countless individuals (many of whom have MBAs or degrees from prestigious universities) who simply cannot seem to manage a meeting.  It can often be the case, that without clear objectives and a process to answer crucial questions about the progress of a particular project or task, we can find ourselves spending too much time in meetings without accomplishing anything.  

Before you complete that next meeting, we want you to ask yourself if you know the answers to the five categorical questions below:

  1. What is all about what we are going to do with the issue at hand. Or, it could simply be to define what steps we do not want to take in addressing the issue.  There will often be times where the issue is larger than the amount of authority, power, and influence an individual has control over the issue. Thus, it could be wise to set up a team to solve a certain issue not necessary with people from the same department. For example, if we were looking at addressing weak sales growth at the company, we might propose a meeting for people involve in making successful sales process be it, product technical & development, manufacturing, delivery not just people engage in just sales with the goal of identifying root causes of this issue, and presenting their findings.  We also might specifically propose that hiring an outside consultant or developing solutions are outcomes we do not want them to explore.

  2. How are we going to address the issues? How often does the team meet? What kind of budget do we have? How the meeting should be organized? How we are going to address the issue at hand?

  3. Who will be responsible for owning the issue, or better yet, who has the power or authority to tackle this issue? It could be an individual or a whole team we set up for this special task. But in the case you use a team, it’s crucial to remember appointing a project leader.

  4. When can we expect to have this issue resolved? When is the person responsible going to start working on it?

  5. Why is at the heart of all the questions. Why are we solving this issue or even spending time to discuss it in the first place?  Is the cost of fixing the problem more taxing than the actual problem itself?

It’s time to stop wasting time in repetitive, unproductive meetings.  We hope this post challenges you to start asking the right questions in meetings, so that rather than sitting in meeting déjà vu every week, you’re hearing about progress and execution.  Isn’t it time you took control of the issues so that your company can exceed its expectations and targets in 2015?