Friday, September 21, 2007


Bill Hybels recently commented that a distasteful word for many leaders is the word "process." We enjoy the end in mind, but don't like the process involved in getting there. Along this line, I have had a disdain for meetings. I view meetings to be a necessary evil. But don't miss the word "necessary." No matter how we may feel about them, meetings become an important part of the process. In fact, I doubt you'll ever be able to get where you need to go (unless, of course, you want to travel there by yourself) unless you have some meetings. Meetings need to happen. The key is to make the most of them.

In my experience there are two outcomes from a good meeting: decisions and assignments. Bad meetings are ones in which no decisions have been made, and no assignments have been given. I have a phrase to describe a meeting that does not yield a decision or an assignment: "a waste of time."

Good meetings have give and take. Everyone gives their point of view toward the decision that needs to be made. And everyone takes an assignment toward the fulfillment of the mission decided upon. If you have scheduled a meeting, and you can't figure out how to experience give and take, my advice to you would be to do yourself and everyone else a favor: postpone or cancel the meeting. Hold off until you can come up with an agenda that allows for give and take.


There are, of course, other reasons a group of people can get together, including: to enjoy each other, to get caught up on what is going on in each other's lives, etc. In fact, I am a huge proponent of small groups gathering weekly for friendship, growth, encouragement, and outreach. These small groups do not necessarily yield a decision or an assignment. This is fine. No, actually, this is great. But those gatherings are not a "meeting" as I described above. If you get people together for a meeting, the assumption is that you have something you need the group's input on, or you have ideas about how the group can be involved. Based on this assumption, it is a significant "let down" to spend an hour "going in circles" or "killing time" instead of making decisions or assignments. If you really just want to just "hang out" then let everyone know that in advance: "I'd like to get together to just hang out and get caught up. No agenda."

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