The meeting game

What game are we playing? Maybe we need some ground rules.

This evening, I was reflecting on a meeting I participated in recently. It was reasonably productive, as meetings go, but I perceived a lack of focus, and thought we could have accomplished more if we’d had some ground rules. I started thinking about ground rules, and how to introduce them. Why does that notion seem so foreign? It’s as if we assume that just because we all speak English, we assume we know how to hold a meeting and get something done. Individually, we each know how to get something done. But our instinctive or habitual approach may not work for everyone in our group.

What if we all decided to play our favorite game at the same time? That’s how I felt at this meeting:

One person mentions a topic or raises a question: A basketball is in play. Someone answers, kicking the ball. Oops, are we playing soccer? Someone else lobs in a football. Next, a tennis ball. Another, a baseball. Now – what’s that – it’s a whiffleball! Oh, now there’s a shuttlecock in the air! Wait, a bocci ball! A bowling ball! Juggling pins! Oranges! Apples! Knives! Flaming batons! Wow, this is exciting! Oh – were we supposed to be having a meeting?!?!? Hmmm….