There’s different ways we experience meetings. One default way, if you don’t do anything else, is you leave with a set of emotions about what happened at the meeting. More so than a checklist of desired outcomes, how-to instruction and explanations of why, in 30 days you will only have the memory of how you felt about the meeting, not a true analytical understanding of what the substance was.
Many businesses operate on fluff, instead of on shared data. I’m not just talking about business intelligence, spreadsheets or that kind of data. I’m also talking about everyday data that we should be responsible for generating, like notes, meeting minutes, audio or video recordings and more. You do not want to operate your business on emotional memories.
The reason this is important to understand is because there are tools and disciplines available to better understand past meetings. Some technologies that are available are video or audio recorders, written notes and minutes and diagrams. Without the discipline of writing down what happens at a meeting, you will have no way to validate or invalidate the substance of the decisions. That means there can be no feedback loop in to better decision making at future meetings.
Instead, you will have executives, engineers, managers and others each individually remembering how they felt at the time of the meeting.
The executive might be feeling, “We’re on schedule.”
The engineer might be feeling, “There are two contradictory objectives that will cause a problem when I implement what is being asked of me.”
The manager might be feeling, “There are more problems and unrealistic expectations than I know how to objectively manage, so I will retreat from interacting with the team about problems and only focus on solutions. I don’t feel like hearing about one more problem.”
The feeling the executive has a memory of does not include a list of specific components, their interactions and exactly what is on schedule. Is the technical deliverable on schedule? Is the value proposition delivery on schedule?
The feeling the engineer has a memory of does not include the list of specific contradictions.
The feeling the manager has a memory of does not want to understand problems, so they will feel better. This means focusing on solutions, maybe working on making things better, but has abdicated the decision making of knowing what things to work on is more important than only optimizing the current work.
A productive learning organization should build a system whereby these people operating it do not just rely on these emotional memories, but have tangible data constantly available at their fingertips to work on. That data can be notes, document shares and multimedia recordings.