- How to Be a Better Meeting Chairman
In January of 1969, George M. Prince, one of the founders of Synectics, Inc. wrote an article which proved to be one of the most popular articles in the history of the Harvard Business Review.
“How to be a better meeting chairman” is one of my personal favorites of all of George’s articles because it describes a powerful approach for getting better, more creative solutions from creative problem solving meetings. This approach helps participants accomplish more, achieve greater creativity and avoid the defensive, hierarchy-bound traditional meeting chair approach, marking true leadership. – Connie Williams
How to Be a Better Meeting Chairman
By George M. Prince
To the interested observer, a meeting is a kind of fishbowl in which he can watch the birth and early development of an idea. A good many of the new ideas in business today are born in meetings; and as a member of a company whose main interest is the creative and inventive processes, I am associated with a group that has studied the dynamics of literally hundreds of meetings over the last eight years. Our usual practice is to tape-record the proceedings and then to replay the tapes to discover what has actually been said by each member of the meeting at various junctures, the tone of voice used, and the results that followed-in much the same way that a football coach studies motion pictures of his team’s games and practices at slow projection speeds to analyze the team in action.
Certain facts about meetings are obvious. Foremost, for my present purposes, the chairman of a meeting is its heart and will. His function and object is to run a productive operation; and to the extent that his group discusses what they are supposed to discuss and the extent that decisions are made and projects and deadlines are assigned to individuals and teams, the chairman is a successful leader.
Our experience indicates, however, that even the successful chairman usually has serious problems and deficiencies of which he is often unaware. Some of our observations on this point have been quite surprising and have made us question many of the assumptions commonly made about the proper role of the chair; and, taken as a whole, our observations strongly suggest that the chairman of a meeting must apply certain novel operating techniques if he wants the people he has gathered together to generate their full voltage. I shall try to show what these techniques are and how they can increase the productivity of the group. To read the remainder of the article download the full version here