The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Owning the agenda

In principle meetings always have an agenda.

Owning the agenda is different. It is shaping the meeting with an agenda.

One way is by being clear as to what that meeting is for and by having only items on the agenda that serve this purpose. And by being able to be consistent, that is by recognizing during the meeting when items appear that don’t belong to the agenda. It’s not about unexpected content, it is about content that belongs to other meetings.

Another way to own the agenda is by asking questions. Questions focus the attention on specific aspects of the agenda items being discussed. They can shape the conversation into a proactive one by exploring the item and seeking to understand the issue. Or they can shape the conversation into a reactive one by focusing on a problem and seeking to solve it.

How the agenda will be owned and followed shape the meeting and make it successful or not.

A way to leave a meeting’s success to chance is by letting go of the agenda. The conversation might still be good, but how it contributes to the meeting’s purpose is left to people’s ability to know what needs to be shared and to distinguish it from their personal interests.


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