Meeting Dynamics

I am spending January travelling around the country running process workshops. This means lots of travel and time to ponder on the dynamics of the meetings.…….

Cross-functional Teams
A group of people with different functional expertise who work toward a common goal, it may include people from finance, marketing, operations, research, engineering, and human resources departments

Problem with cross-functional teams is you get competing agendas, teams taking the time and some teams asking awkward questions on points you don’t really want to cover. Best bet is to divide and rule. Identify the tricky teams and don’t invite them to the main session in the first place but invite to side-meetings to get issues sorted-out behind the scenes.

An exercise, presented as a game, to help people get familiar with each other in new situations and environments.

Ice-breakers are very useful when you haven’t had the time to prepare for the meeting. They let you burn time so avoiding covering the true meeting agenda. If you really desperate try Hide & Seek. In a big office people can completely disappear so avoiding the whole meeting in the first place.

Uninvited Guests
One who attends a meeting without prior invitation or appointment by the meeting organiser

Joker in the pack?! Going to disrupt the session? You could follow the manual on how to handle people in meetings or you could just follow the James Bond approach. You will need a tank of sharks, specially modified seats and a white cat. Just sit back and let the meeting happen.

Comments 5

  1. lindasil

    I disagree with your divide and rule concept. If you need ultimate buy in from a team, you need them at the table to join the painful conversations. Yep, it takes time. But often it is the avoidance of these conversations that creates misunderstandings of obstacles that each team faces that leads us to less than optimum problem solving.

  2. Robin Barnwell

    Hello Linda

    Yes, I agree with the principle and the sentiment but after a month of back-to-back workshops you can get a little jaded.

    Sometimes it’s smarter to have side-meetings, pre-meetings, corridor-chats and other meetings to oil the wheels and get things moving rather than walk into a fire-storm.


  3. Robin Barnwell

    Thanks Eric, I came home with laryngitis and haven’t been able to talk for a week now!

    Also, nice web-site – well laid-out and informative


  4. Steve Halpin

    Hi Robin,

    I received a liitle tip many years ago which I still use to this day – Always bring your PAL to the meeting.
    The P is for purpose, and a little like six sigma, spending time to define what you want from the meeting is time well spent.
    A is for agenda. For longer meetings, define a timetable with regular breaks and exercises for the group.
    L is for limit. Develop a habit of starting on time and finishing on or before time. If an hour’s business has been concluded in 30 minutes, then its time to wrap up the meeting.

    I’m sure we’ve all sat through meetings over the years which could have been improved ahd the leader brought his PAL.

    I hope this may be of help.

  5. Robin Barnwell

    Thanks Steve, good question on the blog, I can never be without a cup of tea.

    Looks like I need to set-up a kanban system to ensure my wife makes fresh as my cup nears empty. What sort of signal do you recommend?

Leave a Reply