Sunday, June 20, 2010

Meetings. Schmeetings

Spent most of yesterday indoors at a meeting, while outside the sun shone, leaves formed CO2 into sugar for later use as structural materials, and birds practiced their arpeggios. The miserable sense of being back at school, in detention, was enhanced by one or 2 indirect calls for me to be expelled from the Green Party, but happily this did not meet with general approval. Stupidly, I went by car. The whole secret of not going by car is to get out of bed 3/4 of an hour earlier. However, I did manage to squeeze 92.3 mpg out of the Insight, but it is still not good enough. For going by car I do deserve to be expelled from the Green Party.

Meetings can be a waste of time if they are not properly structured.
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.

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