Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions
Publication Year: 2003
A best-seller in its first edition, Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions, Second Edition covers everything you need to know about organizing engaging meetings, including preparing agendas, controlling what happens behind the scenes prior to and after meetings, and managing conflicting values and personalities. Through the Meeting Masters Research Project at the University of Michigan, author John E. Tropman observed and interviewed the nation's most successful meeting experts to find out how to make meetings both stimulating and productive. Based on his findings, Tropman formulated seven principles and fourteen commandments for implementing dynamic meetings.
This second edition has been extensively revised and expanded to include
Family meetings and family group decision making; Problems and solutions for board of directors meetings; Community and civic meetings; Volunteers ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 2: Managing Agenda Organization
- Chapter 3: Managing Agenda Design: The Rule of the Agenda Bell
- Chapter 4: Managing Meeting Text: The Writing Rules
- Chapter 5: Managing Participant Trust: The Integrity Rules
- Chapter 6: Managing Pre-Meeting and Post-Meeting Tasks
- Chapter 7: Managing Rehearsals, Performances, and Audiences
- Chapter 8: Managing Emotional Elements of Meetings
- Chapter 9: Managing the Flow of Ideas and Proposals: Dealing with Difficulties in Idea Processing
- Chapter 10: Managing Bases for Decisions in Meetings: The Decision Rules
- Chapter 11: Managing Decision and Choice
- Chapter 12: Managing Positions and Roles in Meetings
- Chapter 13: Managing Tasks and Functions in Meetings
- Chapter 14: Managing Conflicting Values in Meetings
- Chapter 15: Managing the Evaluation Rules
- Chapter 16: Strategies and Tactics of the Meeting Masters
- Chapter 17: Implementing Total Quality Meetings (TQM)
- Chapter 18: The Meeting: Lore and Legend
- Chapter 19: The Negative Culture of Meetings
- Chapter 20: But Why Do Things Go Wrong?
- Chapter 21: Quality Management Equals Quality Decisions
Copyright © 2003 by Sage Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Tropman, John E.
Making meetings work: Achieving high quality group decisions /
by John E. Tropman.— 2nd ed.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-7619-2705-0 (P)
1. Meetings. 2. Group decision-making. I. Title.
AS6 .T743 2003
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
03 04 05 06 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Acquisitions Editor: Al Bruckner
Editorial Assistant: Mary Ann Vail
Copy Editor: Gaye Lucas
Production Editor: Diane S. Foster
Typesetter: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd.
Proofreader: Sally M. Scott
Indexer: Molly Hall
Cover Designer: Michelle Lee
I want to express appreciation to the many people who have made this second edition possible. Let me start, though, with the first edition. Armand Lauffer was instrumental in making the connection at Sage and has always been supportive. The wonderful folks at Sage—especially Marquita Flemming—helped throughout the process. And I must mention all the individuals who contributed “data”: the people who participated in discussions about effective meetings, who let me observe their meetings, and who reflected on the meeting process. All of them made an immeasurable contribution.
What has been rewarding since the publication of the first edition is the communication I have had with readers from around the country. Many of them have tried to put into practice the ideas presented here and have shared their experiences with me. Time after time, they have expressed amazement at how much better they have become at the “meetings game.” And even more, how much this proficiency has expanded the quality of their decision making. That feedback has been very rewarding. I have made notes of their suggestions over the years and have incorporated them in this expanded version.
Putting together a book involves lots of work. Roxanne Loy and Diane Devlin of the School of Social Work Faculty Support Office helped get me a disk of the book from which I could work. Then Terri Torrko worked her magic—she is an editorial genius—and not only improved the material but found errors that had previously been missed. Thank you.
I also want to thank my wife, Penny, with whom I discuss all these concepts and whose insight and observations add an immeasurable richness to the volume. My children, Sarah, Jessica, and Matthew, are adult professionals who have also contributed their insights from health care, grants management, information science, music, and orchestra management.
As our family has grown with grandchildren Jared, Evelyn, and twins Daniel and Ethan, time to be with family seems ever more important. The more efficient and effective my own meetings are, the more time I have to “grampolate.”
[Page viii]And the better decisions that we make in our meetings, the better the decisions we'll have to pass along to future generations.—Ann Arbor, MI,
Appendix A: Writing Samples[Page 225]
3568 River Pines Drive • Suite 100
Ann Arbor, MI 40103 734 • 663-3411
John E. Tropman, Ph.D.
Memo to: Staff
Memo from: John
Re: Staff Meeting
Date: Monday, 10:00–12:00
1. Announcements Penny, Sarah, Matt, Jessica, Jared, Evelyn, Daniel, Ethan 10:00–10:10 [Page 226] 2. Minutes from last Monday's meeting 10:10–10:15 3. Easy Items (Discussion and Decision) 10:15–10:35 3a. Office decoration—Penny Review of new furniture 10:15–10:25 3b. New software—MattMatt recommends MS Office 2000 10:25–10:35 4. Moderately Tough Items (Discussion and Decision) 10:35–11:05 4a. Training and consultation coverage—Sarah Holiday/vacation coverage 10:35–10:50 4b. Film archives—JessicaReview and approval of new information system (Attachment A) 10:50–11:05 5. The Toughest Item (Discussion and Decision) 5a. Hourly versus batch pricing—Penny A proposal to use both hourly and batch pricing methods (refer to previous report) 11:05–11:30 6. Blue Sky Items (Discussion Only) Looking at new markets 11:30–12:00 6a. The music business—Matt 6b. Libraries and museums—Jessica 6c. The health care system—Sarah 6d. Child Care—Jared and Evelyn 6e. Mothers of Multiples—Daniel and Ethan
Snack follows at noon!
3568 River Pines Drive • Suite 100
Ann Arbor, Ml 40103
John E. Tropman 734 • 663-3411
President[Page 227]Sample ReportExecutive SummaryThe Problem
Key material in the firm is stored in several locations. A master file system has not as yet been set up. There is lack of understanding about what should be stored.The Options
The Recommendations—Option 3
- Let things stay as they are for now.
- Plan to revisit this problem in 6 months.
- Ask Jessica to develop an information storage and retrieval plan.
Jessica should be asked to develop a plan. Any delay means more will be lost and the job is tougher.
3568 River Pines Drive • Suite 100
Ann Arbor, Ml 40103
John E. Tropman 734 • 663-3411
PresidentSample MinutesStaff MeetingMonday
Penny announced the new parking lot was ready. Sarah announced a new program at Woman Health, Inc. Matt announced he would be at a software meeting on Friday. Jessica announced new materials for the library. There were no other announcements.[Page 228]
- Minutes from last Monday's meeting
The minutes for the last meeting were accepted.
- Office decoration
The new furniture setup for the reception suite was reviewed.
- New software
Matt reviewed the advantages of the new Windows suite.
- Training and consultation coverage
Problems have occurred in providing enough coverage for weekends, when many groups like to do training sessions. Sarah had worked out a 1.5 to 1 plan. Each Saturday/Sunday would count as 1.5 days. These days would go into a day bank; draw outs would be negotiated at Staff Benefits.
- Film archives
Jessica reported that there is no more room in the film archives. Some pre-1994 films need to be destroyed.
- Hourly versus batch pricing
Questions often come up about how to price. The idea is to price in “package” or “batch” mode for larger customers, at $1,750 per day and on an hourly (somewhat higher) rate for small ones (see report), at $250 per hour.
Different views were expressed. Some favored the dual-rate systems. Others felt a single, hourly rate was best.
- Blue Sky Items—New Markets
A lively discussion of new markets (music, libraries, museums, and health care settings) was held. Each of these seemed very promising.
More discussion will be held next week.
- The music business—Matt
Matt sees small bands—for example, the Brass Band of Battle Creek—as a customer.
- Libraries and museums—Jessica
Jessica sees the need to develop information software for nonprofits generally and libraries and museums in particular.
- The health care system—Sarah
Sarah pointed out that, with the health care system expanding, many project leaders need training in effective group decision making.
- Child care—Jared and Evelyn
Jared and Evelyn explained that there is a lot of small (ish) child care institutions that could use customized decision-making tools.
- Mothers of Multiples—Daniel and Ethan
Dan and Ethan pointed out that there are numbers of organizations where parents of twins and other multiples get together. That could be a great decision-making market.
Appendix B: Sample Evaluation Sheet[Page 231]The Evaluation Process
Have the members of the group set up an evaluation process that includes the following five main steps:
Keep, Stop, Start—KSS
- Goal setting—where we want to go to, by when, etcetera. What outcomes do we seek? Establish a time line (say, a year) for goal accomplishment
- Monitoring—periodic checking in to assess progress
- Oversight—milestone review
- Assessment—quarterly judgments about the quality of progress
- Appraisal—final judgment about how well the project was completed
At the end of each meeting, pass out a sheet that asks three questions to each member:
It will really help you!Decision Audit
Take a sample of decisions from the minutes. Assign a small group from the larger group—one or two will serve—to give decisions one of the following grades:
- An all-win decision—all stakeholders advanced, though perhaps not equally.
- Some stakeholders advanced and some did not. On balance, however, the result is positive for the system (organization, community, or family).
- Some stakeholders advanced and some did not. Basically, there is change in winners and nonwinners, but the overall result is neutral for the system (organization, community, or family).
- Only a few stakeholders advanced and many did not. Overall, the result is negative for the system (organization, community, or family).
- The nuclear-war decision—all stakeholders are worse off than previously. The system is grievously harmed.
Present and discuss your grades with the larger group. Do not worry too much about being right. It is the discussion of the decisions and their review that really counts.Decision Autopsy
Take an A decision and an F decision for examination. Ask of the A decision, what went right and how can we keep this up?
Ask of the F decision, what went wrong and how can we avoid it in the future?
Remember that this is not a search for blame; it is a search for understanding and improvement.
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Available from CRM Learning, http://www.crm-learning.com, or 2215 Faraday Avenue, Carlsbad, CA 92008.1992). Organization theory and design ((4th ed.). St. Paul, MN: West.1986). How to make the transition from an entrepreneurship to a professionally managed firm. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(Goodman, P. S., & Associates. (Eds.) (1986). Designing effective workgroups. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.1973). Trustees as servants. Peterborough, NH: Windy Row Press.(1972). Separable liabilities in directory trusts. California Law Review, 60 (4). http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3479562(Hackman, J. R. (Ed.). (1990). Groups that work (and those that don't): Creating conditions for effective teamwork. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.1990). Groupthink in government: A study of small groups and policy failure. Amsterdam: Swets & Zeitlinger.(1972). Victims of groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascos. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.(1989). 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Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.(1985, Winter). Automated decision conferencing. Personnel Journal, pp. 49–58., , & (1971). Managing large systems: Organizations for the future. New York: Harper & Row., & (1987). Board decision making in human service organizations. Human Systems Management, 7(2), 155–161., , & (1989). The meeting: Gatherings in organizations and communities. New York: Plenum Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-0885-8(Sills, D. (Ed.). (1968). The international encyclopedia of the social sciences (Vol. 4). New York: Macmillan.1957). Administrative behavior ((2nd ed.). New York: Macmillan.1992). Linking groupthink to unethical behavior in organizations. Journal of Business Ethics, 11, 651–662. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01686345(1985). The management challenge: Japanese views. Cambridge: MIT Press.(1986). The transformational leader. NewYork: Wiley., & (1986). Working together to get things done. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.(1980). The third wave. New York: Morrow.(1990). Powershift: Knowledge, wealth, and violence at the edge of the 21st century. New York: Bantam Books.(1987). Voluntary agencies. In A.Minahan (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social work (pp. 825–842). Silver Springs, MD: National Association of Social Workers., & (1982). The decision group: Ways to improve the quality of meetings and decisions. Human Systems Management, 3, 107–118.(1984). Policy management in the human services. New York: Columbia University Press.(Tropman, J. E., Erlich, J., & Rothman, J. (Eds.). (1995). Tactics and techniques of community intervention ([Page 237]3rd ed.). Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacock.1985). Boards of directors: Their changing roles, structure, and information needs. New York: Quorum Books.(1986). A working guide for directors of not-for-profit organizations. New York: Quorum Books.(1995). Developing management skills (, & (3rd ed.). New York: HarperCollins.1977). Liability for social agency boards. Social Work, 22(4), 270–274.(Electronic Bibliography[Page 238]Readers are encouraged to hop on the Web and search for “effective meetings.” There are many entries available, too many to cite here. Readers can get lots of useful and customized information from this source. Therefore, I suggest the following:
Print References[Page 239]1965). The Americans: The national experience. New York: Random House.(1988, May 16). No more mistakes and you're through. Forbes, pp. 126–128.(1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17(1), 1–25. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2392088, , & (1995). Working the shadow side. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(1959). The presentation of self in eve?yd4y life. New York: Doubleday.(1974). The Abilene paradox. Organizational Dynamics, pp. 17–43.(1983). The managed heart. Berkeley: University of California Press.(1989). Governing boards. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(1983). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Muffin.(1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflicti, choice, and commitment. Glencoe, IL: Free Press., & (1976, March/April). How to run a meeting. Harvard Business Review pp. 43–57.(1994). Wherever you go, there you are. New York: Hyperion.(1983). The change masters. New York: Simon & Shuster.(1975). Encounters with bureaucracy. Ann Arbor, MI: I. S. R., , , & (1958). Societal structure and process (Rev. ed.). Glencoc, IL: Free Press.(1986). Images of organization. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.(1982). Megatrends. New York: Warner.(1989). Beyond rational management. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.(1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF01405730, & (1993). Control your destiny or someone else will. New York: Doubleday., & (1989). Enterpreneurial systems for the 1990s. Westport, CT: Quorum Books., & (1984). The march of folly: From Troy to Vietnam. New York: Knopf.(1993). Collective mind in organizations: Heedful interrelating on flight decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38, 357–381. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2393372, & (1994, November/December). The team that wasn't. Harvard Business Review pp. 22–26.(1995). Developing management skills (, & (3rd ed.). New York: HarperCollins.1982). Making groups effective. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.([Page 240]Electronic References
About the Author[Page 247]
John E. Tropman is a Professor of Nonprofit Administration at the School of Social Work and an Adjunct Professor in the Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Development Program at the University of Michigan Business School in Ann Arbor. He also teaches in the Executive Education Program at the University of Michigan Business School and in the Executive Education Program at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his undergraduate degree in sociology (major) and in government and classics (minor) from Oberlin College, his master's in social work from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in social work and sociology from the University of Michigan. He presents and consults widely on issues of effective group decision making, transformational leadership, and organizational governance.