Meetings: Why are we here again?
I once worked for an organization that ran everything by meetings. We had meetings to plan meetings. We had stand-up meetings in our regional plants and sit-down meetings at headquarters. We huddled, we had “tag-ups,” we aligned, and we conferenced, virtually or in person. If there was a way to meet or a topic to meet about, we did it. In the words of the trainer who facilitated our new employee orientation, “We make two things here: our product and meetings. So get used to it.”
In that type of culture,
it’s no surprise that people love to hate meetings.
Meetings can feel like a giant time suck that pulls you away from “real work.” Many leaders burn the candle at both ends—starting work in the early morning and continuing late into the night—because their working hours are consumed in meetings, and action items keep piling up.
Some organizational cultures have tried to address this issue by replacing meetings with alternative ways of communicating. The problem there is that alternatives like texting and email are often no more effective than meeting in person. In fact, research shows that they can easily decrease efficiency and increase distraction. Despite their flaws, meetings are generally more effective than other forms of communication for fostering collaboration, breaking down cross-functional silos, completing projects requiring multiple sources of input, and building strong working relationships.
While it might not make sense to eliminate your meetings, there are steps you can take to make them much less painful. If you search for ideas on how to make meetings more effective, you’ll find thousands of potentially useful tips and techniques—including strategies for streamlining agendas, assigning roles, facilitating discussions, managing time, and so on. Today, I’ll focus on a powerful technique called OPO (Objective, Process, Outcomes). OPO is a proven method created by Corentus, a consulting and coaching organizations with a focus on team effectiveness, and used worldwide across a variety of organizations and industries.
The Corentus OPO
The purpose of the Corentus OPO is to design a better meeting by thoroughly planning all the individual work sessions within that meeting. What do I mean by work sessions? A work session typically shows up as a single topic on an agenda. Some brief meetings are dedicated to a single topic, and therefore have just one work session. Longer meetings often include multiple work sessions.
For example, if I were planning a weekly project meeting in support of creating a formal mentoring program for my organization, the agenda might include four distinct work sessions:
Let’s walk through the process of creating an OPO for Marketing.
NEXT PAGE > 2 of 4