Re: How Much Time in Meetings? LO3735

Jim Campbell (
Thu, 16 Nov 1995 12:41:40 -0700

Replying to LO371 --

Dick: The question that comes to my mind is who is setting the
requirements and parameters for the meeting?

Perspective and approach can and often does take on the specific preferred
approach of the organizer, whether chairing, leading, or the one requiring
the meeting. How much of the planning and process is devoted and
developed through the leaders preferences. How much time is devoted to
inclusion, joining and participation? Meeting experiences I have had,
have all carried the preferred approach of the "leader" in construction
and process, as in, "makes perfect sense to me!!", "there is a right way
and a wrong way........"

Two aspects stand forward for me: Pattern and Integration. The pattern:
designed by custom/culture and leader preference. Integration: by
expected accommodation and adaptation.

Acting from the prespective of "benefit" to the system/organization and
not the choice, influence or deference to an individual system valuation
might require visibility of:

A Recognizable Sequential Structure
A Decision Pattern/Plan
Value to Others
Inclusion of past and existing Experiences and Processes
Opportunity for prior Varying and Reframing
Open Discussion and active Participation (in-meeting)
Reflection and contemplation opportunities (out-of-meeting)

Example (personal experience):
Through all of my learning experiences I have always been required to
accomodate instructional and leading preferences that are different from
my own preferred style, I have learned to adapt. So I can Do It!, However
if you want a deeper more effective response that will save time and
effort and also draw on my strengths, it helps if you take the time to
open doors, or at least put the knob on my side of the door. And as
always, I will accomodate, however this time more willingly.

Systems thinking requires me look at integrating two patterns, the
organization, and the individual. Rather than trying to structure the
meeting process from a specific "EFFECTIVE" point of view, look carefully
at integrating member's preferences and strengths in generating system
enhancing ideas and decisions. Meetings at best are interactive,
self-organizing processes, imposing a preplan or other style of
pre-closure slows the porcess rather than opening it. I think many have
struggled through meetings, where efforts at control, direction and
preemption have prevented at the least an initial willingness to

Critical: get to know what about the system will be enhanced or focused
on, and get to know the individuals who will participating in the meeting.
The following are some questions that occur to me on the rationale and
development of a meeting where decisions are made and the process is
inclusive rather than prescribed from a smaller sample to thinking.

What experience can be draw on that will enhance understanding and capacity
to act?
What would be the right thing to do in reflecting on current objectives and Why?
Is there a sequence or ordering that can be integrated with current operations?
How will the proposed actions affect and be of importance to
clients/customers, organization, processes, staff ?
What decisions can be made now and refined?
What decisions can be postponed to gather more information?
What advantages would there be in swapping early and later decisions?

Who has experience or learning that applies to the issue to instruct the rest?
Who can define the larger picture and what this issue means to the organization?
Who understands strucuring or ordering seems apparent in this issue, what
steps would you propose?
Who understands how this will affect and contribute to our customers/clients
and staff?
Who will open the discussion, who will guide the thinking/reflection
Who needs process/decisions? Who wants to open up the possibilities for the

Dick, your final remark is an example of a pre-set pressure on how to
process and meet:

"The meetings to accomplish this are a natural point of study in applying
the principles of statistical quality control to intellectual work" The
implication I take here is that if we had an established technique or
process guide we could have effective and efficient meetings through
imposing the technique on the participants and wrest "control and quality"
from said meetings.

The difficultly that I see and would like to discuss is: "in self-ordering
systems the outcomes are not clearly known but develop as the process
flows, an externally ordered process would not be able to adequately
anticipate possibilities, flexibilities and progressions over time that
occur naturally in all of our evolving systems. Hence know, reflect and
learn constantly from the system and individual patterns".

Jim Campbell                                  e-mail:
Access Internet - via the University of Lethbridge
190 Oxford Rd. West          Phone & Fax:   (403) 381 3774
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"Life-learning: creating new forms, and in turn not diminishing possibilities"