What relationship do you have with the little word ‘meeting’? A friendly one? A neutral one? Or a troubled one? In my previous life as employee and team member I was – honestly – not a big fan of meetings (till we started with Kanban). In my experience the problem was often lack of clarity.

Unclear language

The word ‘meeting’ is too big, too all-embracing, too fuzzy. It can mean many things; you can do many things. What if we would give each type of meeting a name that specifies what will happen? Like “meet and manage our to-do-list” or “meet and get a deep dive into our questions” or “meet and put our ideas on the wall”. Giving each type of meeting a label might be a first useful step to better communicate what the meeting is about.


The lack of a clear purpose

When the meeting’s purpose is not clear or not shared then we are in trouble. Misunderstanding, disengagement, low expectations; frustration is in the air.

An effective meeting starts before the calendar invites are sent out and the agenda is written. It starts with asking two questions: 1) why are we meeting? 2) what’s the best format for it?
Alison Coward

Meetings have a purpose. Always. We meet for a reason. The meeting’s purpose defines the kind of interaction we need to have and who should join. And the kind of interaction we need to have defines the atmosphere and conditions we must create as well as the room set-up that supports this interaction, and so on.

  • There are the more reflective type of meetings. When we need time and (safe) space for thinking things over, individually and in the team, we sit together with our questions and have a conversation.
  • Updating our joint action plans needs a different setup and spirit; we think quick and action oriented. We are practical and collaborative. A team Kanban could be an interesting approach.
  • When we support a colleague in a peer coaching we listen to his or her questions and challenges. The basis for this kind of exchange is trustful atmosphere so that team members dare to express their struggels.
  • In some meetings, we must open our minds and put ourselves into brainstorming mode. We need a creative space that allows the team to be experimental and innovative and to think out of the box and welcome crazy ideas.

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