Meetings as a collaboration deterrent

Meetings are an excellent tool for top-down hierarchies to manage and control information and decision making, but are inherently inimical to broad participation or collaborative processes.  Here are eight specific ways in which meetings, when used alone,  represent a barrier to collaboration rather than a collaborative tool…

  1. They limit participation to a small segment of the community.
  2. They limit the skill set, perspective and knowledge that can be brought to an issue to that owned by the participants who are present.
  3. They limit the ability to do research or carefully consider one’s answer.
  4. They limit the ability to think outside the box or be creative (innovation and independent thought in group processes begins to decline when the size of the group grows beyond 4-6 participants).
  5. They limit the amount of time that can be spent on an issue.
  6. They limit the information available to what is brought to the meeting.
  7. They limit the ability to understand the deliberation and discussion to those present at the meeting.
  8. They limit documentation of the work done at the meeting to what is contained in the minutes, usually in the form of a bowdlerized outline or set of bullet points listing subjects discussed and specific decisions, usually recorded by a manager, and without supporting detail.

Meetings can stimulate, support or supplement work done with other collaborative tools, but are poorly suited as a standalone for collaboration.  How are they used in your community, and how does that impact the process and outcome?


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