If you work with people, chances are you will have a meeting with them at some time.
Here’s how to make sure they are effective.
Meetings are often just opportunities to solve problems. Let’s explore the best way to do that.
First, it’s important to have an agenda. This will provide needed focus so that everything under the sun doesn’t come in and rob time from more pertinent discussion. If you have a specific reason for meeting, you’ve set parameters that will give directions to your destination.
And your destination is the solution to your problem.
Having an agenda won’t limit you to one problem solving session per meeting, but it will ensure you explore the issues you intended to.
There’s a four-step method to problem solving.
First, define the real problem. If it’s unhappy customers, then narrow it down to what they seem to be unhappy about. Maybe it’s your refund policy. Knowing this will make it easier to find a solution. Be as clear as the sea on the Gulf Coast of Florida. If you can see your feet through the waves, you’re clear.
Second, make a list of possible causes for the stated problem. This is your brainstorming session. Listen to everything here, no matter how silly it may seem. You might set a time limit for this, say fifteen or twenty minutes. Just let the juices flow during those minutes. Don’t make judgments in this second phase. Just recap often enough to keep track. One best cause will arise from this mottled pile soon.
Third, narrow the mass of causes down to a few choice solutions after choosing the best cause. Be as specific as you can when defining these alternatives. Prove them with facts, evidence, testimonials, andexamples. During this testing phase you can easily whittle the lesser choices away. Once a possible solution passes this test, include it for final consideration.
Here’s a short definition of the proof test factors:
Facts –statistics and documented observations
Evidence – real outcomes and benchmarks
Testimonials – what others have said about it
Examples – applicable incidents from inside or outside the organization
Finally, pick a solution. The best one will arise after the first three problem solving steps are taken. When you’re satisfied with a solution, act on it.
If you’ll conduct all your meetings this way, you’ll be effective every time.