Schooled in Meetings!

The assignment was to produce an agenda for a list of topics. I got a C.

There were no discernible objectives and no way to mine for intentions. I broke all the traditional rules—format, timeslots, responsibility assignments—by responding only with questions. The instructor wanted me to recognize how generous she was to give me a C.

I awoke with a jolt. What a nightmare!

I’ve encountered a lot of people who refuse to go to meetings unless there is an agenda. This attitude has accomplished nothing but the proliferation of awful agendas. Agendas that would have scored an A in my nightmare.

I recommend you refuse to go to meetings run by people who believe a nicely written agenda is a substitute for knowing what they are trying to accomplish. People who believe following rules is more important than knowing exactly what must be different when the meeting ends. People who believe assigning time frames and responsibilities so they can control the conversation and finish on time is more important than actually accomplishing something.

If you’ve read my stuff, you’ve heard it before, but I’ve got to repeat it until people realize how much time they are wasting in meetings, even in those with focused, well-behaved, interesting discourse: “Don’t start a meeting unless you know what must be different when it ends!”

I used to boast that I could cut your meetings in half. I was wrong. A reduction of 75% is more accurate. What would this mean to you and your company? Call 617-939-9654 or email me at

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