Meetings: Breadth vs. Depth

January 6, 2011

Meetings – a word that usually causes some negative reactions.  We all have plenty of anecdotes of poor meetings.  However, meetings are essential to the effective operations of any organization.  They should be something we look forward to rather than dread.  Patrick Lencioni in his excellent book, Death by Meeting, addresses the problems with meetings and provides tools to make them better.

One issue that I often find is that often we want our meetings both wide in scope and deep in discussion.  The problem is you can’t have both. You either cover all of your agenda items superficially or you only cover a few items in depth and wind up frustrated because you didn’t finish your agenda.

So choose if you want breadth or depth in your meeting.  Usually for breadth, you are taking care of housekeeping or administrative issues. You are dealing with a lot of issues that usually don’t take a great deal of intense discussion.

However, on strategic issues or major policy issues, keep you agenda to only a few points – maybe even just two to three.

So, don’t mix your strategic meetings with admin meetings.  Choose either breadth or depth as you plan your next meeting.  Trying to do both is a sure fire way of creating frustration.