King Arthur Inspired

August 23, 2012

When was the last time your meeting looked like this?

King Arthur

Today we’re going to take a look at some expert meeting practices from some of the best businesses of all time.  We’ll start with King Arthur.

King Arthur, what a guy.  Legend has it that the roundtable was developed after several quarrels amongst King Arthur’s barons, who all refused to sit at a lower ranking than the other.  In order to create equal seating, and ranking, a table was developed with no beginning and no end.  A circle’s round, it has no end…you get the idea.

Walter Isaacson, the famous biographer of Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and the late Steve Jobs wrote a terrific article called Inventing the Future about the evolution of technology.  He writes:

“What causes innovation?  The lesson of Bell Labs is that most feats of sustained innovation cannot and do not occur in an iconic garage or the workshop of an ingenious inventor.  They occur when people of diverse talents and mind-sets and expertise are brought together.”

Bingo.  Great managers and leaders since the beginning of time know that great ideas don’t come from one person, they come from several.  The first step of a successful meeting is realizing you don’t have all the answers.

This doesn’t mean your point of view can be vague.  Developing and maintaining a clear purpose and pursuit of your meeting is the second step.  How often do you sit in meetings and discuss your weekend or holiday plans?  How much time is wasted?  How many thoughts forgotten?  If you’re holding a meeting be prepared.  Have a clear objective.  Go after that objective.  Always make sure everyone has your attention.  Together you’ll achieve your objective. 

This brings us to our third step.  Create a clearly defined outline of your meeting, save it in a document, and send it out to each attendee well in advanced.  If everyone in the meeting has a clear understanding of its objective, your likeliness of achieving your goals are raised.  This also demands a level of focus for all participants.  If you’re prepared, they will be too.

Step four.  Solidify your team.  Look at the list of people you’d invite to your meeting.  Does everyone need to be there?  Is everyone a necessary contributor to this particular goal?  If the answer is no, you need to do some cutting.  It may seem democratic to include everyone from your office or invite a new client into your meeting.  It’s not.  It’s actually just a waste of time.

Consider your solution before you begin.

Deliver that solution.

End of meeting.

Make your next meeting your best meeting.  And the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that.