For meetings that matter, who should attend our meeting? Why do we often forget to ask the most important stakeholders?
We’ve held our meeting. We’ve made our decision. We are just getting into the execution of that decision when we are suddenly confronted with an objection we did not anticipate.
Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever participated in a meeting where a decision was made, after which there was some unexpected pushback? Have you ever seen a meeting make a decision in the absence of some critical information or viewpoint?
This occurrence is far more common than it need be and often leads to considerable angst, delay and expense.
So why does it occur?
Our mistake is that the participants to that critical meeting were those that were available. And these are often insiders whose perspectives are commonly similar. In other words, the array of participants contains insufficient diversity.
So who are the stakeholders we should consider inviting to any meetings where smooth implementation of the decision is vital? Here is a generic list. Feel free to modify or adjust, depending upon your circumstances.
This diversity of voices will reduce the likelihood of our missing critical perspectives.
Now it is obvious that it will be sometimes difficult to have all of these voices present in our meeting and contributing to our decisions. This deficit can be overcome, in part, by inviting those who can attend to act as proxy for those who can’t.
One way of facilitating this is through the provision of ‘desk tents’ labelled with the name of the stakeholder groups. Before our meeting, as well as during, participants are advised which stakeholder they are proxy for.
As a result, each meeting participant is invited to bring two perspectives; their own and that of their proxy. This often requires that participants do some homework so that they are adequately informed prior to the meeting. Or it may mean that we discover a gap in our knowledge regarding a particular stakeholder’s perspective. So we may need to suspend the meeting while we find out.
© Ian Plowman
Author: Ian Plowman is a consultant, facilitator and social researcher with over 30 years experience as an organisational psychologist. He works with individuals, organizations, industries, communities and government agencies. He holds a Doctorate in Management, an Advanced Master’s Degree in Business Administration, a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology and an Honours Degree in Clinical Psychology. Ian helps clients to develop skills and awareness to remove blockages and raise their levels of creativity and innovation.
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