Intentional Meetings. Five Things We Can Learn from Juries.

intentional practice meetings Nov 09, 2021
Intentional Meetings. Five Things We Can Learn from Juries.


Ever attended a meeting? Alright, dumb question.


Ever attended a meeting that wasted your time? Hmmm… maybe another dumb question.


Yet, here is one common meeting that wastes no one’s time.

Perhaps you’ve been on a jury.


In a recent issue of The Economist (October 16) the pseudonymous Bartleby suggests that there are a few things that organizations can learn from juries if they want meetings that matter and engaged members.


First, its purpose is clear.

Would that each chair declared a the beginning of our meeting its intended purpose… something more striking than it’s our time, or it’s our monthly review, or it’s just what we do. Why are you there at the table? What do you intend to accomplish this evening? How will it make a difference?


Second, the size is right.

I am not sure that this need be so, other than the skill of the chair. There is actually research that suggests that board (and thus meeting) size is not a criterion for success. I was once the CEO of a not-for-profit with 168 elected members (you did not misread that) and in a different life chaired a monthly consultative committee of 120 members. Obviously, our meetings had a clear purpose and we engaged in considerable group work, identification of problems and issues, and consensus building. Challenging but not impossible – ad not an experience I would choose to repeat! Twelve is a better and more manageable number!


Third, the agenda has but one important question.

Is it necessary to have more than one issue on the table? Get the information and non-controversial material off the table quickly through the consent agenda, then deal with the easy decisions such that you can focus on the one big strategic question or issue for most of the meeting.



Fourth, the membership is less prone to group think.

They are selected from a pool of candidates offering different perspectives. As we pursue diversity, equity and inclusion let’s also imagine diversity of opinion, equity of respect for questioners and inclusive deliberations where alternatives are identified and considered, at least at the staff level, and presented by way of context. Board members who ask questions demonstrate trust in the process and the board is better for it.


Fifth, discussions are of necessity structured to test arguments.

They are designed to probe risk factors. And generally, they model a strong element of psychological safety. There is no place for rumors and innuendo; no reason for the real meeting to take place in the parking lot; no sense of exclusion.


Juries may be more engaging than your average board meeting in part because there may be more at stake… but they are also better planned, more focused, collaborative and deliberative.


Is there anything here that you could not do?


What are your main “pain points” dealing with meetings?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? 

Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email. 



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