Meeting Flavors

This is not about salted caramel, chili chocolate or blackberry cabernet!
How often are you clear on why you are having a meeting? There are three flavors of meetings that you can savor with participants:

  1. Standard – when participants have radically different points of view, conflict about the current state or differing levels of understanding, a standard meeting is held to inform and create clear, common, shared understanding.
  2. Solutioning – this is a meeting where you know the specifics of an issue and need input on options for solving it. The meeting gathers input through discussion about a very clearly stated problem-solving challenge (we recommend extended question sessions for stretching thinking.) Issues are moved into choices between various solution options.
  3. Strategic – this is a meeting where there is consistent understanding of the issue, prioritized options and it’s time to make a decision. This is a potential minefield if the decision making process isn’t pre-defined. The Vroom–Yetton contingency model is a useful tool. We’ll explain this in further detail in next week’s tip.

Meetings are mismanaged because there is a lack of clarity about the flavor, the agenda or the outcomes. To improve your meeting mastery we suggest:

  • Set the context by selecting the appropriate flavor. Tell participants what to expect so they know how to contribute.
  • Outline the agenda and set the pace.
  • Define intended outcomes. Be clear about the meeting purpose and non-purpose. These are the boundaries to operate within and clarity about what success looks like.

Mixing meeting flavors can create confusion. So be clear about the flavor the agenda and the outcomes in order to maximize the limited brain resources of your meeting participants. (According to David Rock, the average number of peak decision making hours people report is 3 – 5 per week!)

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