The next time you’re in a meeting, wishing you weren’t, you might want to consider why the meeting feels so insufferable.
Often it’s because no one has bothered to consider the purpose of the meeting.
Cam Daigle devised a classification system that provides an excellent framework for improving meetings. They declare that There are three types of meetings:
I believe all meetings can either be defined as either Status meetings, Feedback meetings, or Decision meetings.
For each type of meeting, Cam identifies the goal, appropriate scale, power dynamic, and risks inherent in each type. For example, for status meetings:
The goal of a Status Meeting should be to disseminate information. That’s it. If the attendees of the meeting come away with current and relevant information about whatever the hell the meeting was intending to communicate, it’s done its job.
My favorite meeting type is the feedback meeting—mostly because meetings of this type are the most frequent devolution state of a status meeting or a decision meeting (in my experience):
- Everyone is in a room talking about what they accomplished in the last 24 hours, and then a few folks start offering feedback on a specific approach to solving a problem that someone took. A status meeting just became a feedback meeting.
- Or maybe you’re in a meeting room, trying to decide whether to build something based on a given design, and you get an hour of feedback on the design but no clear path forward. A decision meeting became a feedback meeting.
For a feedback meeting, Cam is careful to identify 2 crucial devolution states, of which the second is more critical:
Be extremely careful about decisionmaking.
The moment the presenter stops receiving feedback and starts reacting to it, the meeting dynamic is at risk.
That’s right, a feedback meeting can also devolve into a decision meeting.
I highly recommend reading Cam’s entire post. Since doing so, every meeting I go to and thinkpiece about meetings that I read has me sitting there wondering what type of meeting I’m in, or is being discussed.
- Is my 1:1 with my manager a decision meeting or a status meeting?
- Is this product review a feedback meeting or a decision meeting?
The next time you schedule a meeting, give it an agenda, but also consider which type of meeting it is—and whether it should be happening at all.