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•Complexity of issue. If issue you are thinking about meeting on is very complex or highly emotionally charged, then you probably want to get people together. Issues that are more simple might require less or a different form of input – meaning that a meeting might not be required.
•Goals – is this one-way information sharing? Many meetings end up being one way information sharing. If that is case for your meeting, you might consider other ways of disseminating information. If you really want dialogue or conversation about what is being shared, then a meeting is more likely your best option.
•Need for independent thought from individuals. While meetings give us chance to discuss things openly and thoroughly, sometimes stronger individuals in a meeting will dominate. If you really want each person’s input independently, you might substitute one-on-one meetings for your originally conceived group meeting.
•Cost. The costs of having a meeting are huge. And no, I’m not talking about coffee and donuts. When you consider real cost of putting people in conference room (calculate this by estimating cost/hour/person in room) you will be shocked. This factor alone can help us really think more carefully about whether a meeting is our best option.
Asking this question may lead us to having fewer meetings, but need that prompted question still exists. So if you have a need but have determined not to have a meeting, how do you meet you need?
You can always have face-to-face one-one one conversations, use email or voice mail, or even have phone calls with people if you can’t catch them face to face. Each of these options gives you ways to share information, and to request input in return.
Meetings while sometimes tedious and not as effective as we would like, are an amazing tool for getting work done. Asking this initial question - Do we need a meeting? – is one of single best things we can do to improve success and productivity from our meetings.
Discipline yourself to ask this question every time you start to schedule a meeting.
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.