“The Crisp Meeting” by Seth Godin

The Crisp Meeting is a great post by Seth Godin that gives you a framework for creating meetings that enhance your work instead of them becoming a drain on your productivity. Following is an excerpt from the post:

The crisp meeting is one of a series. It’s driven by purpose and intent. It’s guided by questions:

Who should be in the room?

What’s the advance preparation we ought to engage in? (at least an hour for every meeting that’s worth holding).

What’s the budget?

What’s the deadline?

The post has several more excellent questions to be asked in preparation for a meeting and some pithy thoughts as you might expect from Mr. Godin. It is worth a read in my opinion.



No MAS is the answer to MAS

No MAS is the answer to MAS

Poorly run meetings are a major waste of important time and many of our problems with meetings are self-inflicted. Click here to read a good article on Inc.com and watch the video below


are you running productive meetings?

Meetings are a challenge to say the least. We need them (at least the right meetings) to do our work, but we do them so poorly that we mostly detest them! So often if feels like a no-win scenario. However, it doesn’t have to be this way at all.

Patrick Lencioni has a great book out on how to do effective meetings entitled “Death By Meeting” and has some great resources on his website.

I also came across this article, “What Everyone Needs to Know About Running Productive Meetings“, today on the Harvard Business Review website that has some good pointers for how to actually have interesting and productive meetings.

Meeting Tree by Elizabeth Grace Saunders


Some interesting points from the article:

1. First the question – “Are you addicted to meetings?” Great question!

2. Shorten the meeting times. Don’t default to an hour “just because” or because it’d the default setting on your Outlook

3. Create a focused agenda

4. Limit attendees to who absolutely needs to be there

5. Stay on track!

6. Manage the attendees – don’t allow one or two people to dominate

7. Set the right tone

8. Define next steps and responsibilities

Some good points here and several echo what Patrick Lencioni has written. Meetings are an important part of work. Doing meetings well is an important leader and manager skill and well worth you learning how to do them well!!



“Beware of Perception Gaps”


why you should cancel your weekly staff meeting

Interesting article on The Muse about four reasons to cancel your weekly staff meetings. They just might make sense – what do you think?

1. Interruptions Are Productivity (and Potentially Profit) Killers

2. Instant Messaging is an Effective Way to Get Most News Out—Faster

3. There Are Other Ways to Meet

4. Every Meeting Should be Planned With Productivity in Mind

Click here to read the full article – it will make you think about how you do meetings.


“One Kind of Meeting You Should Never Have”

Good article by Geoffrey James on the Inc.com site about how update or status meetings waste valuable time.

Many workplaces have frequent meetings where everyone on a team gets together (either physically or virtually) to give oral status reports of their respective projects.

These “update meetings” (aka “staff meetings”) are supposedly useful because they encourage “better communication.” I beg to differ.

As I see it, communication should take place only if it’s necessary to coordinate the activities of team members. If that need does not exist, “better communication” is only creating distractions. . .

Let’s imagine you’re on a team of 10 people. If everyone in an update meeting gives a 15-minute update, you’ve consumed 150 minutes per person for a total of 1500 person-minutes (i.e., a 2.5-hour meeting with 10 people in attendance).

By contrast, if everyone spends 15 minutes writing a summary, you consume 150 minutes in writing time but, because most people can read (or skim) 10 times faster than they can listen, you’re adding only 15 minutes per person (i.e., 1.5 X 10) for a total reading time of 150 person-minutes. The grand total is therefore 300 person-minutes.

Thus, writing summaries is five times more efficient than an update meeting.

Something to thinks about! Read the entire article, click here, for a bit more information. It may cause you to rethink those status / update type meetings that bore most of us to tears!



“prayer for a meeting” – by Stephen Scaer

Good Saturday afternoon to you! I found the following poem today as I was reading through the October issue of First Things.

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill me with affection

for sycophantic colleagues who pretend a

boss’s remark is witty; the projection

of Power Points that stray from the agenda

with pie charts, false and darkly personal,

that narrows my dominion to a sliver,

and bullets saying things are worse in all

of my performance measurements. Deliver

your lamb to valleys where he will safely graze,

or help me love your children at this table,

to hold my tongue, unless to sing your praise

in every situation, so I’m able

to be content in everything, like Paul,

who loved those whom he didn’t like at all.”

 – Stephen Scaer

Do You Have A Coffee Budget?

Good morning to you! I hope your week is getting off to a great start, it looks like mine will be pretty full.

Question – do you have a coffee budget? No? Maybe you ought to if you really want to grow. Confused yet?coffee cup at PT

Most of us are busy, very busy in fact. Because of that and because of a lack of intentionality, our circles of influence may sometimes be smaller than we might imagine. Also, they may not be very diverse, so we spend most of our time with people very much like us. The result can be a narrowing of our thinking and a lack of creative input into our lives. So, to counter this I am suggesting you drink some coffee!

What I really am suggesting is that you set up your budget so that you can take someone different out for a cup of coffee each week for a year. Pick interesting people from a wide range of backgrounds from whom you can learn. People that will challenge your thinking and your preconceived notions. People from walks of life very different from your own.

Take them out for a cup of coffee, ask good questions and then listen. You will be amazed at what you learn and the friendships that you start. The hard part will be getting outside of your normal circles, but to make this really interesting, you will need to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Stretch yourself, grow, and by the way – you will impact them as well.

So go enjoy a cup of coffee with someone new this week. You will be blessed.



Are Meetings Frustrating You? Try Three Simple Things

Good morning! I hope you had a great day celebrating Independence Day yesterday.

For many people, next to e-mail overload, unproductive meetings are one of the most frustrating aspects of organizational life. There are several good book out there on the subject with my favorite being Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. But instead of rehashing his book (click here to see some of his tools) I am going to share just a couple of things that really make a difference for me.

First – decide what you are really wanting to accomplish in the meeting. What is the ONE thing you want to walk away with at the end of the meeting? Write it down and even put it on the top of your agenda.

Second – after you build your agenda, cut it in half! Force yourself to truly rank order the topics and only deal with the most important half of them. And then, spend more time arriving at better decisions on the most important issues.

Third – after cutting your agenda in half, then assign time frames to each agenda item and stick to the time! Force discipline into your meetings.

Try these three simple things for a few meetings and see if the quality of your meetings improve. You might be surprised.

Have a blessed Thursday!

Meetings Are Great! Right?

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend.  We did as a family.

I have the privilege of being a member of Harvest Bible Chapel – Granger and today I get to go talk to the staff about everybody’s favorite topic – meetings.  Doesn’t that word give you a warm fuzzy feeling?  No?  Really?

Most of us don’t like meetings and the primary reason we don’t is that we do them so poorly.  In organizations where they are done well, people actually look forward to meeting with one another.  In fact, in some companies (such as Google) their ability to have great meetings is actually considered a strategic advantage.

Following is a meeting protocol we have developed that helps us (when we use it!).  Maybe it will be of benefit to you:

  1. Meetings are a fundamental tool for the effective functioning of any organization.  They are key to us accomplishing the work to which we have been called. As such, they should be viewed as a vital part of our work and not as an interruption of our work.
  2. Prayer should be a vital component of all of our meetings here at Life Action.  Not only should meetings begin and end with prayer, prayer should be interspersed throughout the meeting as appropriate.
  3. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting, the type of meeting and the desired outcomes.
  4. Carefully consider who should attend a meeting.  Only those truly critical to the subject at hand should be invited.
  5. Prepare a written agenda & distribute it ahead of time. Two considerations:
    1. Prioritize the agenda items in terms of importance.
    2. Assign realistic amounts of time to each subject.  We often have too many items on our agendas.
  6. Clearly assign roles for the meeting.
  7. Preparation for the meeting is a given.  If you are making a presentation, your handouts should be distributed in plenty of time beforehand for the participants to review the materials.  Also, you should review any meeting materials you receive beforehand.
  8. The time of others is a precious resource.  As good stewards and out of respect for our co-laborers in Christ meetings should begin and end on time.
  9. The start time of a meeting is when the meeting actually begins – do not view that as your arrival time.
  10. If you are going to be late or have to leave early – please inform the meeting organizer beforehand.
  11. Typically, meetings should not last more than 90 minutes.  If so, there should be regular breaks at no more than 90 minute intervals & healthy refreshments provided.
  12. You are expected to fully engage in the meetings.  A collaborative approach to our meetings is the standard – fully assertive & fully cooperative seeking to arrive at the best decision.
  13. Cell phones should be turned off or set to silent or vibrate.  Do not accept calls during a meeting unless you are expecting an emergency call.
  14. The use of your laptop during a meeting for meeting related purposes is encouraged.  Using your laptop to catch up on e-mail or to surf the Internet during a meeting is disrespectful to the other participants and does not reflect our standard of esteeming others.
  15. Stick to the subject at hand and take the agenda seriously.  Develop a “parking lot” and store distractions or ideas not germane to the discussion there to be discussed at a more appropriate time.
  16. Side conversations during a meeting are rude & disruptive.  One speaker at a time.
  17. Don’t leave a meeting without summarizing the results and confirming actions to be taken.
  18. Minutes are to be kept of meetings especially noting action items.  Minutes should be distributed within two working days of the meeting.  The minutes should clearly state the actions taken / decision made as well as who is responsible for the execution of the action items.
  19. Constantly evaluate the effectiveness of our meetings and be constantly seeking ways in which to improve in the utilization of this important tool.
  20. Again, meetings are not an interruption of our work; they are one of the most effective tools for us to accomplish our work.  However, as with any powerful tool, improper use or poor use of the tool can be counterproductive.  Skillful application of a powerful tool yields powerful results.

Don’t give up on meetings – they are actually important to your work – just learn how to do them well and turn them into a strategic advantage!