Most meetings serve two distinct functions: to track and to choose. These functions don’t mix well.
In a tracking meeting, we check progress, coordinate with each other, and hold ourselves accountable for selected chunks of work. Tracking meetings are shorter and more frequent. They range from a daily, 5-minute, stand up scrum to a biweekly project update. A tracking meeting agenda comes from the list of current chunks of work.
In a choosing meeting, we explore, select, plan, and commit to those chunks. We set strategy. Choosing meetings are longer and further apart. They range from a monthly operations review to an annual, multi-day, strategy off-site. The agenda for a choosing meeting comes from the difference between what is true now in our business and what we want to be true in the next little while.
Mixing these two types makes meetings painful.
When people in a tracking meeting want to explore or set strategy, tensions rise, eyes roll. When we are in a choosing meeting and someone wants to talk about minutiae, tensions flare, blood boils. And, without a regularly scheduled set of both types of meetings, people will bring up whatever topic at any meeting whenever.
With such a regular schedule, people will wait for the appropriate time. And meetings will resume their role as useful work tools.
In your corner,
PS: There are other forms of meetings–such as training and interviews–that lie outside this model.