Spring and early summer are always great times to clear away debris from our yards, clean out the closets in our houses and prune our trees. In April, I finally had my trees pruned and one dying tree taken down before another storm did more damage to its pitiful limbs. And as much as I love the towering, mature trees in my neighborhood, it was wonderful to see more sunlight in my backyard. There was a palpable shift in energy from the clearing away of dead branches, the opening up of more space.
Translate this to our business environments; many of my clients struggle with the weight of all those emails and with the crush of energy-zapping meetings. What if you used this early summer to re-evaluate your meetings and do a little pruning?
Has this meeting outlived its original purpose?
If you were to re-imagine this meeting, what would you do differently? Would you “prune” some of the invitees or “prune” some of the standard agenda items?
What could you change to infuse more energy — a different location? A different time of day?
Does the length of your meeting need pruning?
Years ago I had a coaching client, Cheryl, who would tell me horror stories of the meetings in her organization. Meetings that would last four hours over lunch time and yet no one was supposed to stop to eat. They were supposed to just keep dashing from one long, excruciating meeting to the next with no breaks. It makes me shudder to think how unhealthy that was — both for my client and for that organization.
Lately I’ve been enchanted with a little book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. As part of her system to help us clear away the clutter in our homes, she suggests we methodically go through our items and ask, “does this spark joy?”
Imagine if we asked that question about our meetings; “does this meeting spark joy?” I can hear you laughing as you read this. I’ve got to admit, I started laughing when I thought about what Cheryl’s reaction would have been years ago if I had asked that question. So maybe “joy” isn’t actually what we are striving for in our meetings, but certainly “energy” could be or “a sense of purpose” could be.
The point is to take the time to evaluate our meetings and their patterns. See if there are opportunities for pruning. Look for ways to let in more light — more innovation, more focus, more opportunities to build trust and camaraderie with our teams. And as you do that inside your organization, let’s expect your newly pruned meetings to more closely mirror the abundant summer sunshine outside.