IT Leadership

Blog Article: Tips for Running More Effective Meetings

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*Originally published for The IMF Blog on May 8, 2013 | View Post

We recently had a Connect discussion on how to run effective meetings. Prior to that call, I posted the topic and issues in a couple of my LinkedIn groups and got some great responses. It seems meeting efficiency is a sore spot in many companies but there are some tips and techniques to improve your meeting’s effectiveness. While there were a variety of views on the matter, a common theme emerged from the 30+ responses: a strong leader/facilitator is the key. This is the best way to ensure a meeting stays on topic, on time, and accomplishes its objectives.

Here were some other suggestions I found interesting:

  • “Anyone late, including the lead, contributes $1 to a pre-determined donation.”
  • “Make timely arrival a desire. Make the person who shows up last sing a song and reward the first person to show up with a treat.”
  • “Use whiteboards to stress the main topic or agenda.”
  • “Let opinions be free and objection constructive. You can reap some unexpected benefits by keeping things a little loose.”
  • “Distributing an agenda ahead of time only helps the discussions keep on track and gives all an opportunity to insert items they feel warrant discussion.”
  • “Everyone needs to agree what the meeting is about and what outputs/decisions need to be produced by the end of it. Too much meeting time gets wasted talking at cross purposes.”
  • “Keep the meeting on topic. Allow for some free discussion but if it seems to be taking too long give the necessary people an action to take the subject off line and, if necessary, report back as an agenda item at the next meeting.”
  • “Instill time discipline into participants and develop the necessary culture of respect and time management.”
  • “Only meet when a meeting is necessary.”
  • “Try stand-up meetings for quick discussions. Make a meeting slightly uncomfortable, i.e. no chairs. Once people sit down they get comfortable and things can quickly go off-topic.”
  • “Record actions, not verbatim minutes.”
  • “Ban all meetings for a period of time.”
  • “Pertaining to managing time, place a large clock on the table, visible to all, and hold speakers accountable to staying on schedule.”
  • “Meetings should start with a review of open issues from the prior meeting, so that issues don’t get dropped/forgotten. Hold attendees accountable for bringing closure to their open issues.”
  • “The meeting should have one leader that controls the flow of the meeting and calls BS when someone digresses from the meeting purpose.”
  • “You need structure, and you need to be systematic. When people come to meetings, they should be ready to account for the responsibilities relating to their role, they should be ready to talk about the challenges they are facing, and ready to listen to the contributions of others.”

What would you add? What are some best practices you use to run an effective meeting?

Additional resources:

6 Tips for Being a Good Facilitator (Danny Beckett Jr.)

How to Run an Effective Meeting (Inc.)

How to Run a Meeting Like Google (Bloomberg)

5 Tips for Improving Meeting Management Skills (Brian Tracey)

Book: Robert’s Rules of Order, 11th Edition

Book: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

Blog Article: IT Transformation or Resurrection?

Posted on

*Originally published for The IMF Blog on May 14, 2013 | View Post

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

– Mark Twain

In the latest episode of Michael Krigsman’s CxO Talk, social business expert Dion Hinchcliffe essentially says “IT is dead.” When I first saw the title of Michael’s article regarding the episode, “CxO Talk guest Hinchcliffe proclaims, ‘IT is dead,’” my initial thought was “here we go again.” After all, Hinchcliffe’s “proclamation” is nothing new.

It seems like I read at least an article or two every week about IT going the way of the dinosaurs sooner rather than later. I skip over a lot of these articles because it’s basically the same information rehashed. However, I enjoy the CxO Talk episodes so I gave it a listen and thought Hinchliffe made some strong, valid points.

The usual suspects are implicated here: Shadow IT, Cloud, BYOD, and the outdated concept of an overly-centralized IT department. While acknowledging the perceived risks of Shadow IT in a somewhat backhanded way, he even states “IT departments are now the hardest way to get things done.” Technology is moving to the lines of business, infrastructure is moving to cloud, and so on and so forth. Again, this really isn’t anything new.

Here’s the deal: IT’s not going anywhere. The department may change or undergo some sort of transformation but it’s not going to become extinct. Moving technology into the business units just means they’ll have to learn to perform IT activities themselves. Is this really practical? Talk about not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone. As for cloud, most companies in the cloud still aren’t comfortable because of all the uncertainties associated with it. BYOD is great but somebody’s got to keep an eye on the devices.

Look, I’m not saying IT isn’t a hindrance in some cases. I’m not saying IT doesn’t stifle innovation on occasion. I’m saying, despite all the doomsday articles, IT is a critical part of the enterprise. Its absence would result in pure chaos. That being said, an attitude adjustment is necessary if IT’s going to play with the big boys.

Improved IT-business collaboration should be at the top of your list. Deal in terms of business value, not IT value. Stop dragging your feet on projects and looking for reasons as to why something can’t work. Say “Yes” for a change, or at least offer some comparable alternatives. Enable the business instead of holding it back. I’m sure you’ve heard this all before but it’s still not sinking in with a lot of organizations. IT will determine the role it plays in the enterprise moving forward. Why settle for keeping the lights on when you can revolutionize the company and/or your industry?

**If you’re interested in Shadow IT and its effect on the evolution of IT leadership roles, join our next webinar on May 30th at 2:00 PM EST. Michael O’Brien, an experienced and innovative IT leader, is presenting on the “Evolving Role of IT Managers and CIOs.”