So many meetings and collaborations falter because decisions about topics, speakers and techniques don’t follow from tough preparation. Without that preparation, meetings often are smooshed together. Meeting design and facilitation often seem no more than a potpourri of topics, speakers and techniques.
We’re all familiar with Nike’s swoosh logo. For me, smoosh results when we take everything that’s top-of-our-minds and stuff it all into an agenda. I’ll bet there’s not much patience with smooshing for Nike’s product development and marketing. The progenitors of “just do it” would recommend that we will benefit most from their products if we prepare: know how to play and exercise to our greatest benefit and least harm.
I think smooshing is the primary reason why Google has 1,210,000 entries for boring meetings. Sadly, most lists about how to achieve better meetings suggest you need an agenda. Never mind that the agenda might be just a list of things to talk about without consideration of underlying issues, questions and concerns, and all the other agendas of all the other participants.
Preparation cures smooshing. Proper preparation digs beneath top-of-mind. It asks about results – what do we hope to learn, to accomplish together? It asks about the enablers and obstacles to that specific learning and accomplishing.
Meeting strategy emerges from this preparation. The strategy is a best guess at the combination of topics, participants and techniques that unravel and reassemble the pieces of what we want to learn and accomplish, and the hurdles to making progress.
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