Death by Meetings? Try This
“One reason I became self-employed 20 years ago was to escape meetings.”
I could have written this line. Honestly, if you think business meetings can drive you nuts, try higher education. However, this line was authored by Dan Pink in his most recent newsletter.
Pink is no stranger to this blog. Two of his books (Drive and a Whole New Mind) have been reviewed quite favorably while a third (To Sell is Human) well, not so much.
But, let’s focus here on meetings rather than a review of Pink’s far ranging contributions. Part of what I do in my post-academic life is executive coaching. Just in the last few weeks I heard these sentiments which, to the best of my ability, are direct quotes:
“This place is death by meetings.”
“I really have two jobs here. One is what I was hired to do and the second is to go to meetings.”
“I can’t wait to retire so I can stop going to meetings.”
Pink’s sentence is a lead in to a rubber chicken solution to aimless meetings. This off-beat approach, described in an Inc. column, calls for placing a rubber chicken in the middle of the room which anyone can make squawk when they perceive the conversation wandering off-course.
I have never tried nor observed the rubber chicken approach. But I can attest to another which I know works. This one even has a personality type bent to it which makes it a bonus offering for this blog which traces its history back to applying Jungian personality theory to winning business.
Way back when I was a graduate student at Temple taking a class in organizational development with Rod Napier, he invited us to help with a client who was having trouble with wandering meetings. The specific problem was a common one. Some team members, likely Extraverts like myself, were dominating the meeting while others, likely Introverts, had a difficult time being heard.
Here is the simple solution we put in place for Rod’s client. Each person attending the meeting was given the same amount of poker chips. Whenever a person spoke, he or she was required to deposit a chip. When an individual’s chips were gone, so was his air time.The results were amazing. Extraverts started acting like Introverts in that they actually thought before they talked. The meetings were briefer and more productive. The poker chips added fun and advanced self-understanding, especially among we Extraverts.
If aimless meetings have driven you to the point where you are considering a career change, early retirement, or worse, give the rubber chicken or poker chip solution a try first.
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