Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions
By John E. Tropman
Summary written by Conflict Research Consortium Staff"
Citation: John E. Tropman. Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1996, 206 pp.
Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions offers a set of principles and instructions for managing successful, productive meetings. This book aims to enable the reader to lead effective, enjoyable meetings which produce lasting high quality decisions.
Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions will be of interest to those who wish to improve the quality and efficiency of meetings. This work is divided into twenty-one brief chapters, arranged in four parts, with an introduction and appendices. Tropman observed a number of "meeting masters," and has distilled their various techniques and approaches into seven principles and fourteen commandments.
Part One describes seven general principles which, taken together, provide a model for successful meetings. Meetings should be seen as orchestra performances: cooperative ventures requiring preparation and a definite agenda. Agendas should be set based on the material to be covered. New business and reports should be avoided. Meetings should be proactive, and should seek to produce decisions which advance the interests of all stakeholders.
Part Two describes fourteen commands which guide implementation of the seven principles. This section discusses agenda organization and design, and offers improved formats for meeting agendas, minutes and reports. It discusses managing participant trust, and the emotional elements of meetings. Suggestions are offered on handling premeeting and postmeeting tasks. Following the orchestra principle, rehearsals, performances and audiences are discussed. Difficulties in idea processing are dealt with. This section also discusses the rules which govern decision-making processes, and suggests techniques to aid in the "crystallization" of decisions. It discusses the various positions and roles participants may assume, and describes the proper balance between being process-oriented and goal-oriented. It suggests approaches to managing value conflicts within meetings and to securing win-win resolutions. Finally, this section describes various meeting evaluation procedures.
Part Three offers further strategies and tactics for implementing the elements discussed above. It also discusses ways to achieve total quality meetings. Part Four discusses the contemporary negative culture of meetings, and explores in some detail the reasons why meetings go wrong. It concludes by discussing quality in meetings and total quality management.
Appendix A offers a sample agenda, sample report, and sample minutes. Appendix B offers a sample meeting evaluation sheet. And Appendix C contains a pocket guide (suitable for photocopying) summarizing the central elements of the book.
Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions discusses the issues involved in planning and conducting meetings. It offers specific tactics at help avoid "meeting misery" and achieve effective, decisive, productive meetings.