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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Delimiting Required

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Or: Every Yes Begins With a Bunch of Nos

I ran across a list of items by Greg Wilson on how to run a meeting, but that's not the take-home for this post. Rather, it was an aside near the end of his piece that caught my eye:
meeting.jpg
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I once chaired a one-day meeting in New Orleans where I tried to introduce a whole bunch of meeting management techniques at once while also contributing. I did it so badly that they replaced me as chair at the mid-point, and were right to do so.
This is interesting because so much of Wilson's own advice could be subsumed under the umbrella of delimitation: Have a purpose. Formulate a clear agenda. Lead with the most important topics. All of these things pertain to the need for the human mind to be able to focus in order to be effective. Each of these positive goals -- choosing a subject, concentrating on different aspects of that subject, and deciding what was most urgent about it -- required eliminating a whole host of other considerations. The cause of running an effective meeting is no different, although that might not seem apparent. To his credit and our benefit, Wilson admits this, and I think it's his most important point.

Taking all of Wilson's advice at face value for the sake of argument, if one's goal is to run effective meetings, one can run with his anecdote and think of that goal as a meeting. What points about how your organization runs meetings depart furthest from this ideal? Which improvements would pack the most punch, and maybe even kill two birds with one stone? Start with those, most urgent first, order the rest, and create a time table for implementing improvements at a pace that will show results quickly enough to get others on board, but is slow enough to allow everyone to acclimate themselves to a set of changes before introducing others. Wilson has given us a wealth of information, but it, like the topics of a meeting, must be organized within the contexts of what an organization needs and how human minds can grasp and hold on to it.

-- CAV

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