The Psychology of Quality and More
A number of quality improvement and problem-solving tools are most effective when used with a group of people, each of whom may make a specific contribution. When the team meets, both the conduct of the meeting and the layout of the room should help them to work on the problem together, as one team.
Meetings are very expensive in terms of people's time and if there is no objective or agenda, then little is likely to be achieved. A short, focused meeting with a simple and clear objective is likely to be far more productive than a lengthy meeting with unspecified aims. The meeting is also more likely to be successful if the process and tools to use in the meeting are identified beforehand and a facilitator brought in as appropriate.
It is thus worth spending time before the meeting identifying the objective of the meeting, how this may be achieved and how any blocks to progress may be overcome.
When sitting together, all members of the team should feel equally able to contribute. A long, rectangular table can isolate people at the ends; the best shape is a simple circle.
When working with a whiteboard or flipchart, people should sit in a wide semicircle or arc, facing the work area. This will help them to focus on the problem, rather than one another. Attention to the problem can be further helped by clearly displaying the objective of the meeting, for example on a single sheet of flipchart paper which is taped to the wall.
When the objective and process is agreed by all, the meeting simply becomes a matter of following this plan.
It often occurs that one or two people will dominate any meeting and will tend to do all the talking. This prevents or inhibits other people from making useful input to the team. Other people may also be naturally reticent or unwilling to become involved.
It is one of the tasks of the team leader to enable and encourage contributions from all members of the team, which may require specific attention to be paid to both dominant and reluctant individuals.
At the end of the meeting, all decisions, actions, responsibilities and timescales should be agreed and clear to everyone. These key points may be reinforced in a written meeting summary (not detailed minutes).
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