Monday, January 19, 2009

Meetings as a time-waster

Reid Hastie, a professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago has an excellent article on the inadvertent way meetings waste our time. He tells the story of a typical meeting that rambles off the agenda and on to tangential stories that last too long and frustrate participants, who must have another meeting to "pick up where the last meeting left off." Today Martha and I talked about how the meetings we have gone through in life, led by good people, leave participants exhausted and discouraged. Hastie brings three recommendations: the one who calls the meeting "should be explicit about its objective", "everyone should think carefully about the opportunity costs of a meeting", and lastly "after productive or unproductive meetings assign credit or blame to the person in charge."
That person is often me with so many church and staff meetings. I wonder if I should design an evaluation card to hand out to all participants to give each meeting a grade? When Martha and I discussed the myriad of meetings we have attended in our lives, we realized that very few generate creativity and often bring further burdens and distractions to what we both love doing most (me: preaching, teaching, encouraging people and Martha; working with students who are eager to learn about printmaking). I am deeply grateful for our current church chairman who never calls a meeting without a written, explicit agenda and stays on time. How I wish other meetings were so well-focussed.


At 6:12 PM , Blogger Scot McKnight said...

Listen to Martha, Don.

Meetings are a postdiluvian plot to prevent piety and peace of mind.

I love you man!

At 6:01 AM , Anonymous kent said...

Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. Get the book and it will change who you do meetings. It is excellent.

At 7:59 PM , Anonymous Rahab said...

Oh.....my.....Gosh......lol....lol....if it isn't so, what would be! And, funnier yet is when we have closed door meetings before fellow flase Kings, and continually convince ourselves before one another; when they by their own wretched conscience have defeated themsleves grossly by a grand cover-up...lest they not think the "big chesse up stairs Our Lord" is greatly gassing upon them....listening intently each false word and disparities at times~indeed. Meetings of small Kings at times.....a waste of time...or I'd claim it on a realistic stance, yipes, "A Two Ringed Circus event, only to gain the unwealth of knowledge of The NOT Good Kings Men"! Now........oh dear , Rahab watch your writers tongue, and behave lady like and proper....oopps....I'm off! Oh fun ~ this one, indeed fun!!!!

Snow bunnies, Rahab


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