Make Your Meetings Optional

Here is some advice: and it looks so good on paper….

“If you are in a meeting and it’s a waste of your time, WALK OUT.”

But wait. Who can actually do this and get away with it? We, the “invited” participants typically have no legitimate authority to walk out. We therefore cannot exercise it. We cannot “opt out.”

The cultural norms in your workplace can severely limit your individual autonomy.

So: this advice to participants to simply walk out is, therefore…. specious.

Superficially plausible, but actually wrong. Misleadingly attractive.

Not really actionable.

Actionable Guidance Now: Game Your Meetings

Wait. Let’s switch this around. You probably convene meetings, right?

If so, then here’s some actionable guidance you can actually use, today:

“Make your meeting optional for all participants.”

This is an instance of culture hacking: the editing of cultural norms at the local (meeting) level. You are not asking permission here. If you convene meetings, you are already authorized to do this.

So, go ahead. Exercise your authority. Click. Done.

This is explained clearly in THE CULTURE GAME book, Chapter 13: GAME YOUR MEETINGS

“…The remaining challenge to game your meetings is the idea of opting-in. Who needs to be there? Who does not? How is this currently handled? If you explicitly examine your current culture in terms of meetings, you may find that this is actually very fuzzy and hard to pin down. Put a stake in the ground by clearly stating who is required to attend and who is optional. Ideally, you want to afford everyone the choice of attending, or not...
“…Implementing an opt-in meeting requires you to examine what’s normal. This can be painful yet the end-result is much more learning. After dialogue around the topic, people start to realize that they are unsure if they are required to attend meetings they are invited to. They start to realize that they attend every meeting and are not sure why. Participants who opt-in bring engagement to the meeting. They also enjoy a personal sense of control. Take a shot at communicating an opt-in policy for your meetings. Opt-in participation is an essential aspect of any good game. Game Your Meetings.

It sounds very simple, and it actually is.

You can learn more here: