I have been on a big meeting kick recently. No, I don't want more meetings.  I want more productive meetings. But, this week, I noticed something, and I couldn't get it out of my head. The meeting was routine, but we weren't defining the problem. So, instead, we got stuck talking about generalities and spiraled into fear. It isn't the insidious fear, but a subtle fear of failure, and if you haven't defined your problem, no one fails, and no one moves forward either.

Marks of the Land of Fear

  • Minor problems become deal breakers.
  • The effort required isn't defined, or worse, isn't even considered.
  • The conversation revolves around the undefined pain of the change.
  • Defining the problem meets resistance.

Making Bets

So how to get out of the land of fear? It requires slowing your brain, and it also requires that you are curious. Mental shortcuts make our life a lot easier. However, shortcuts in meetings often lead to less clarity.  Less clarity leads to, you guessed it, more meetings.  Define the problem and make estimates to break out of the repeated meeting loop. So make your bets.

Placing your Bets

  • In areas of opinion, quantify the confidence on a 1 to 10 scale. Then share everyone's predictions. Talking about the differences will add needed clarity.
  • Be careful of 1's, 7's, and 10's because those can be shortcut answers
  • Ask for a high and low expectation of how long it will take. If people squirm because they don't want to be wrong, let them know these are guesses.
  • Find a baseline. If there isn't a baseline for the prediction people, are just telling stories.
  • Differentiate between one-time and ongoing processes for your guesses. NOTE: Most likely, the process will be a one-time process, maybe 65% to 75% of the time.

To make meetings productive, define the problem and get there faster by placing their bets and making predictions. Or keep assuming and have more unproductive meetings.