Your Meetings – the lowest hanging fruit

One of the most important things we do in organisations is interact in meetings.

Yet 90% of people I speak to indicate their meetings are not as productive as they could be or worse, a waste of their time. There is a general consensus across industry that our meetings are all too often insufficiently focused, lacking sound collaborative approaches, have a limited outcome orientation and consume way more time than is necessary.

The importance of meetings in an organisation cannot be understated. In terms of knowledge-transfer and decision-making our meetings are potentially our most potent method because we:

  • have the right subject matter experts invited and in attendance,
  • if they are in attendance, they should be there with intent, and
  • they are in a face-to-face setting where the most meaningful communication should be possible.

There are a number of methods doing the rounds that focus on improving meeting processes and many of these work well but the key to effective meetings is addressing the thinking that takes place within those processes. At Think Quick we have facilitated many difficult and potentially difficult meetings using the Six Thinking Hats and have high levels of success.

Not all meetings of course require such facilitation, I suspect a great deal could be run simply and efficiently if the participants could simply develop some tolerance and empathy for opinions that differ from their own. However, we routinely use the  parallel thinking of the Thinking Hats when:

  • there are strongly held views
  • there are challenging issues at hand
  • there are diverse perspectives on offer
  • the conversation is rambling and unfocused, and
  • when time is short

The challenge is to incorporate the methods into meetings so they become a part of business practice and are routinely applied. This challenge when accepted is one that can bare great benefits.

To date, just a few of our client’s successes using parallel thinking in their meetings have been:
• Millions of dollars worth of savings in one Department where such saving could not be envisaged prior.
• A $600,000 saving within a business unit as a result of training in the thinking and its subsequent same day application to a key issue.
• The smooth planning of moving 20+ city locations into one newly constructed building.
• A business restructure planned and implemented without any of the associated angst by getting everyone thinking in parallel throughout.

Meetings can be productive, focused and enjoyable. They are the primary engine-room for transferring knowledge and making decisions in organisations, so if you get the thinking right in your meetings right, the flow-on effects are substantial.

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About the Author

Frank Connolly is the Principal of “Think Quick”, a business that adds value through thinking differently. His work history covers all sectors and includes initiatives that have yielded bottom line benefit in the 10’s of millions of dollars.

Current clients range from Exxon-Mobil to Government Depts within Australia to Global NGO’s.

Much of his working life has been split between Australia, the South Pacific and Asia where he has trained and facilitated Lateral Thinking techniques, and been acknowledged by Edward de Bono as one of the foremost practitioners of the de Bono thinking methods worldwide.

Frank believes strongly that if we can improve the way we think, the actions that follow also improve.

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