Meetings comprised of those who need to be there

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The next principle Pittampalli offers concerning the modern meeting is
The modern meeting limits the number of attendees

Initially, this principle may come across as a power grab that doesn’t care about the opinions of anyone else in the organization. However, if this principle is taken in conjunction with earlier principles, then one would expect the meeting owner to have already had numerous conversations with those affected by the decision so that the owner arrives at the meeting with abundant representation of opinions. Deliberate leadership and decision making need not be at odds with great care toward those whom decisions affect. The point is that meetings should not and cannot be held effectively unless the personnel is limited in some way.

Limiting the personnel also goes both ways along the leadership scale. Just because you’re the top leader of the organization doesn’t mean you need to be at every meeting. If you have nothing to add to the meeting, and you truly trust the person delegated to oversee a particular facet of the organization, then please give yourself to more important matters that need your direct input. To do otherwise can be construed to communicate that you either don’t trust the person tasked with the decision, or that your presence at such meetings is simply a symbolic exercise of authority – authority over that which you have not researched or have nothing to offer.

Granted, it is a delicate process to decipher who to include and exclude. The goal is to limit the number so as to be efficient but not to exclude those whose investment in the decision is needed.

Lastly, limiting the number of attendees is liberating. There should be freedom to decline attending meetings regarding decisions for which we have no strong opinion, no interest in the outcome, and are not instrumental for the coordination that needs to take place. If I don’t need to be there, then please let me attend to other matters so that I do not waste my time and others’ time by just sitting and listening.

Some diagnostic question:
1. Will you be able to function if you read about the meeting after it’s over?
2. If you are given the decision we are discussing in advance, will you be able to give me your opinion in advance?
3. Do you add any value by sitting in the meeting without participating?
4. Are you attending symbolically, or simply as a way to demonstrate your power?

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