Avoid making sarcastic comments out of the side of your mouth or worse. You know you want to bop that long-winded dolt over the head or flee screaming from the conference room. We’ve all been there. Instead read this pithy list of rules for making meetings more productive:
1. Sterile Cockpit (maintain focus)
2. Jackanory (no story-telling, i.e. reasons, explanations, justifications, causes)
3. Sherlock Holmes (reveal rather than conceal)
1. Sterile Cockpit is an aviation term which means that during critical phases of flight, such as takeoff and landings, nothing else should be discussed by the flight crew. Even if it is important keep it for later.
2. Jackanory is Cockney rhyming slang for 'Telling A Story'. When we tell a story about why something has happened we usually, without realising it, begin to defend and justify. This wastes time and energy. We only need to give the absolute minimum facts to allow the meeting to determine the correct action. The time for stories is really after the meeting.
3. Sherlock Holmes was a famous but fictitious detective who had a fantastic ability to uncover the truth in difficult circumstances. A team should not expect their team leader to have the same level of investigative and deductive skills as Sherlock.
And, if you want your group to become better co-creators, try the Four-Player System designed by David Kantor and described in William Issac’s book Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together. (Thanks again Ken).
Here’s the roles that participants must adopt for a collaborative conversation:
Without Movers there is no direction.
Without Opposers there is no correction.
Without Followers there is no completion.
Without Bystanders there is no perspective.