A New Way To Eliminate Worthless Business Meetings

by Sharlyn Lauby on February 12, 2013

A few months ago, I shared an infographic about “flipping” traditional teaching models. It has implications for both education and training. The basic idea is about moving a classroom environment from discussion to action.

Well, I ran across this article about a new take on the “flipping” concept – it’s flipping the meeting.

Intriguing thought. I mean, how many worthless meetings do we attend every week? Ones where there’s lots of talk and no action? Oh and let’s not forget those meetings where the goal is to walk out of the room with nothing on our to-do list. I’m sure we could all get behind the idea of productive meetings.

Flipping the meeting means coming to the meeting prepared to do work. Not talk about doing work.

Now the article I read – you can check it out here – focused on establishing the purpose of the meeting as an action verb. Examples are create a plan, design a strategy, and develop an outline. But I sensed a challenge. Couldn’t someone say that discussing the status of a project and explaining the latest policy change are action verbs? And those are the kinds of “actions” that are often accused of bogging a meeting down.

It seems like the conversation regarding flipping the meeting to an action oriented agenda needs to go one step further. Because not all action verbs are created the same. Bloom’s Taxonomy reminds us that actions achieve different outcomes. So meetings with the purpose of defining the scope of a technology integration project (knowledge according to Bloom) will be very different than meetings to formulate a game plan for next quarter’s marketing campaign (synthesis or creation).

Need a refresher on Bloom’s Taxonomy? Here’s the Homer Simpson version (refresh the screen if needed):

I get the concept of flipping the meeting. It has the potential to move meetings from talk to action. And that’s a great thing for business. But it will only work if designed in the right way and managed by all the participants.

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