The meeting after the meeting sometimes has more impact that the meeting itself. In many organizations, that’s where people share their real opinions and where the real decisions are made. A team might agree around the conference table, but then express doubts in the “safer” environment of the hallway or coffee shop.
It’s a passive aggressive way to squash ideas, because the champion of the idea isn’t there to defend it. It can also be pretty toxic to an office culture.
I’ve been working on a cartoon book idea about overcoming idea killers, and this meeting dynamic is one of the leading offenders. It’s even more sinister that the Devil’s Advocate, because it’s invisible.
An organization is strongest when people feel comfortable challenging each other in the open. Ideas are made stronger by the diversity of hands that touch them. Here’s the best rule of thumb I’ve heard on leading through differences of opinion: “Everyone has a voice. Not everyone has a vote.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on ways to foster a culture that keeps the “voice” in the meeting.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
This meeting dynamic inspired one of my earliest cartoons, back in February 2003. It’s still one of my favorites.