Sunday, September 21, 2008

Brilliant sunny day

Brilliant sunny day, spent it in a city in a meeting.
Came back and revised this:

This is a reminder for all of us of the basic structure and processes of committees that enable them to be effective.

1. Always read all the papers before the meeting
2. If submitting papers, always make sure they are ready in good time to be read.
3. A committee is not a dinner party. Conversation at a dinner party may flow like a river and flit like a butterfly. In committees conversation should be focussed on the item under consideration.
4. Be decision oriented, because decisions create action. Unfocussed comments do not create action. Some matters are consensual. If not, by all means debate the issues, then look for a proposal that may resolve disagreement.
5. In debate, focus on the decision to be made; try not to just comment on tangential matters.
6. It is good if the discussion flows without “going through” the chair, but it is always the duty of the chair to look out for quieter members. Make sure that they are listened to, and not interrupted by more frequent talkers.
7. If someone proposes a resolution, the chair should ask whether it has a seconder. Will it help resolve the matter? If yes, second it.
8. On being seconded, the meeting should focus on the proposal as a potential resolution. Is there an alternative, better resolution? If not, go to a vote if a query for consensus still meets with dissent.
9. The chair should make clear what is being voted on. Is everyone clear? Then vote.
10. Once a vote has been completed, the matter has been settled; the meeting moves on.
11. These rules, which can of course all be broken when the situation is right, help the meeting to be effective and brief, allowing more time for convivial, free-ranging discussion afterwards.

21 September 2008


weggis said...

I have always found that the most effective, efficient and productive part of a committee meeting is in the pub afterwards!

Jim Jay said...

I kinda agree Weggis - although I think this fits with Richard's thesis that vital parts of the meeting are the pre-meeting prep and post-meeting work...

I'm really glad you posted this Richard because we often take meeting skills for granted, not just chairing/facilitating - but just being a member of the group.

One difficulty comes when we want to include people new to politics and meetings, so don't want to make them feel excluded with lots of rules but at the same time ensuring we have an effective meeting, although these rules often ensure that old hands don't just get to assume ownership of the meeting and waffle on.

Anyway, the greater the awareness of how to "do" an effective meeting the better as when they work they can be fantastic - and when they don't they are worse than pointless.