Meeting as an Idea Parking Lot
Conversations and ideas are like cars.
During a conversation you might find out that your team (or you) don’t have enough information or time or some other resource to continue discussion and bring it to a desired outcome. You sort of saying: “I can’t drive it anymore, I need a break, a re-charge”. So you kinda “park” this conversation for a while. You choose a specific “parking lot” for it in your calendar.
Meetings are these parking lots.
We pause a conversation until a designated time slot in our calendars and usually do nothing. Our mind suggests we focus on other urgent things and come back later to the issue. And that’s generally fine, it makes us productive.
The problem is, after you come back to your parked conversation, your main action should be to move it forward. Imagine you come to your parked car, drive for 2 meters and stop again, park again and leave. It sounds stupid, doesn’t it?
But we do so quite often. We come for a meeting, talk around the issue and leave without any decision. Or schedule another meeting. And one more. And more.
Imagine every meeting to be so productive to have a specific outcome, result, decision, action step in the end. Sounds like an ideal situation!
Remember: meeting is just a parking lot for your ideas and conversations. The very act of scheduling a meeting does not solve any issue automatically. You got to move your “car” forward, that’s what it’s made for.
As for me, learning some facilitation techniques helped a lot to make meetings more productive. And I am sure there are many other useful tools out there. The only thing we need to do is to start perceiving them as a necessary element of a meeting.
For now, I see many teams perceive meetings are comprised of a topic, time slot, participants and place. I would argue the mechanics for getting through the topic and reaching desired outcome are essential as well. Can we add a field “Desired outcome” to all the calendar apps, please? Can we appoint the roles in advance? Can we agree on what are the discussion practices that make our team more productive and fit our working culture?
Less parking, more moving forward.