Eliminate Meetings

+Vincent Knight posted this article on meetings from psychologytoday.com.

I am mainly posting this so that I can find it later. I will be department chair in a couple of years, and I could be a committee chair sooner than that. I would like to remember this general philosophy.

I don’t want to go to the extremes that this paper does. For instance, “Meet only to support a decision that has already been made; do not use the meetings to make decisions” seems like a bad idea when the department is deciding whom to hire for a tenure-track job. However, I have found that many of my meetings could be replaced be electronic communication.

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2 Responses to “Eliminate Meetings”

  1. pluschuck Says:

    Congratulations and condolences on your upcoming chairship.

    I know it sounds wrong to go in with a decision already made, but I’ve found that it really does work best that way. I think the suggestion is to go in with specific decisions to support or deny and don’t use the meeting to formulate a decision. For example, in your case of a hiring decision, you would go into the meeting with the possible options on the table: hire A over B, B over A, neither, etc. You don’t want to go into the meeting and then get distracted over some side issue, like whether you should first vote over whether the candidates are acceptable or not.

    The advantages of this course of action is that you can announce ahead of time what decision is being made so people can honestly access their need to be present or not, and what preparation they need to do. If it is an important issue you can provide early balloting. And finally, since you have an action (vote on the decision) to move toward, you can keep the meeting moving towards that goal and keep the meeting short.

    Also, I’ve never been so praised as a committee chair as when I ran organized and short meetings. Anything you can do to minimize meetings in number and/or length will be highly valued.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for the congratulations and condolences. The good news is that I am still four years away. Also, thanks for the feedback on being a committee chair; I know that I appreciate organized, short meetings.

      I think that maybe I do not understand what the article means by “Meet only to support a decision that has already been made; do not use the meetings to make decisions” I am definitely on board with coming into the meeting with exactly the questions we are trying to answer (“A over B,” etc). I originally interpreted this as that we should decide “We are going to choose A over B” somehow (electronically?) before the meeting. I was then confused about what it would mean to “support” a decision (“We chose A over B before this meeting. Aren’t we awesome?”).

      I can get behind your interpretation.

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