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081125L - MEETINGS

Background material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. at a postgraduate management workshop held at the Institute of Medicine Universiti Brunei Darussalam on 25th November 2008

Over-view: This workshop discusses successful and unsuccessful meetings and gives practical hints on how to get the best out of a meeting

Good reasons for calling meetings
·        Goal clarification
·        Information
·        Decision-making
·        Introducing new ideas
·        Conflict resolution
·        Resolve implementation bottle-necks

When not to call meetings
·        Availability of alternative to meeting
·        Not enough time to prepare
·        Key players not available
·        Personal/sensitive matters

Success of meetings:
Most of the group work is carried out at meetings. Success of meetings depends on: calling meetings when they are actually necessary, having a clear agenda, maintaining the meeting focus on the set agenda, and listening to others. Set specific objectives. Invite only those absolutely needed: those with knowledge and expertise, implementors of decisions, and those who will follow-up. Follow-up on invitations: verify that all participants will be available, remind them about dates and place.

Choose meeting place with care. You should have a well structured agenda: introduction, purpose of meeting, and key issues for discussion. Stick to the agenda. Plan to control discussions: give background, plan to reach conclusions, guide meeting to a consensus, give every one a chance to speak, encourage quiet ones, control domineering types, summarize decisions and task assignments, assign follow-up tasks and set deadlines,  end on a high note. Time management: start on time, end on time, and establish time limits for each agenda item. Follow-up, circulate minutes and action lists.

Meetings that waste time:
Meetings are the commonest time-waster in organizations. It is more important to do something about problems than to talk about them. Meetings that waste your time have the following characteristics: no objective, no agenda, no time limits, and participants come late. You have several alternatives of dealing with such meetings. If you have a good excuse do not attend. Finish your priority work and be late. Arrive on time and leave early. Bring work to do during boring meeting sessions. Excuse yourself for 15-20 minutes to do priority work. Meetings that wreck meetings: Invite as many people as possible. Invite anyone . Cover as many topics as possible. Discuss important issues last. Spend most of the time on unimportant issues

Decisions at meetings:
Decisions taken at group or team meetings must be binding. If they are not there is no purpose in holding the meeting. If the meeting is meeting in a role other than decision-making, it is fair to inform the participants of that.

Dua at leaving a group meeting: "Hazrat Abu Burdah reported that when the prophet intended to stand up from a majlis, he used to say at the end: Subhanaka allahuma wa bihamdika ashahadu an la illah illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaik. So a man said: O Messenger of Allah! You make a statement which you did not utter before. The prophet said: I say it for the atonement of what happens in the majlis" Hayat 3:313

1.      What is the most common reason for calling meetings in your organisation

2.      Describe meetings in your experience that were successful and the reasons for the success

3.      Describe meetings in your experience that failed and the reasons for the failure



Writings of Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr

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