The Agenda: The Enemy of Productive Meetings!
An agenda is the killer of productivity in meetings. Focus on specific outcomes expressed as deliverables instead. Drive for excellence on outcomes in all activities and you will create the DNA for excellence for your organization and yourself. Hugh Ballou, The Transformational Leadership Strategist.
Yes, you read this correctly. Organizations hire me to run meetings, team planning sessions, board retreats, etc. Never once in over 22 years have I ever used an agenda for a meeting! I promise.
This is not just semantically petulant. It is a major paradigm shift. Think about meetings you have attended in the past. Think of a boring, unproductive meeting that you experienced. Maybe that particular session was not planned thoroughly. Maybe that particular session was planned with unclear outcomes. This is the nature of the problem - AGENDA = activity and DELIVERABLES = results. Reframe your thinking and focus on outcomes and not on activity.
Plan your meetings backwards. In other words, begin with the end in mind as Covey teaches in his writing on leadership. If you are planning a meeting, define the end results you want, that is, what will you walk away having accomplished after it’s over. Define the results you want to see. In addition, do not develop too many outcomes for any one session. It’s better to get great results on a few topics rather than mediocre results on many.
If you are planning a 60 – 90-minute session, then consider three outcomes as a target. Also, state those in specific, quantifiable terms. For example: instead of “We will discuss marketing” (expresses as an agenda item) choose the following type of wording, “Define 5 marketing strategies that will increase our sales in the next 12 months.”
One paradigm shift that makes leaders more effective is to create and maintain a culture of excellence in the organization you lead. Focus on outcomes and excellence in every activity and every process. Transformational Leaders constantly build leadership skills in an expanding inventory of relevant leadership tools. Conflict management and conflict resolution become less of an issue when clarity of purpose takes away potential for conflict.
Success is a mindset. Think about what you want to achieve and make it happen.