THE SQUIRREL FACTOR DEFINED
Think of a squirrel and its erratic, herky jerky actions, then think of a meeting where its participants introduce topics that are somewhat relevant to the meeting but that are clearly not on topic (aka “thoughts from left field”) nor are they relevant in achieving the meeting’s intended results. Next thing you know, the discussion becomes erratic and herky jerky and the participants have a difficult time getting back to or even remembering the intention of the meeting. Distraction, diversion and most likely disaster for your meetings right?!
SOME COMMON CAUSES OF THE SQUIRREL FACTOR
- No established agenda for the meeting
- Participants are not engaged in the topic(s)
- The meeting is loosely run with no clear leader
- Interruptions are tolerated and become the norm
- Participants are not invested in the outcome of the meeting
- Participants multi task, checking phones and email
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO LOWER THE RISK OF THE SQUIRREL FACTOR
- Agree on a specific outcome for the meeting prior to commencing, make it specific and measurable. (S-M-A-R-T)
- Prior to the commencement of the meeting have participants establish a personal outcome and then do a quick check in on their results at the end (Did you achieve what you came for?)
- Appoint a meeting leader who you can count on to bring the conversation back on topic quickly and effectively (Humour helps)
- Make it a powerful experience, establish ground rules – no cell phones, no interruptions (unless it is a dire emergency)
- Should someone “squirrel” there may be some merit in using the topic for future meetings, create a list of “squirrel topics”
- Check in prior to completing the meeting – Did the group collectively achieve the intended result? If not, what would you change for next meeting?
Meetings are necessary but it is my opinion that many organizations generate meetings in order to create more meetings to talk more about what could be getting done, should be getting done but isn’t. If you must… meet less with more efficiency, act more with actions designed to move your organization forward.