Generalizing about meetings – whether to complain or to recommend “best practices” – is easy. What is challenging is to recognize and respond to the ways in which meetings differ.
My friends at Lucid Meetings have identified 16 types of business meetings (plus one that is important, but falls outside the scope of their investigation). They dove into the inherent complexity of meetings and wrestled with the variables that make one meeting different from another. In the process, they also found themselves in the tangle of ways that one kind of meeting is linked to another.
As a self-confessed “meeting junkie” with a passion for helping organizations have meaningful, productive meetings, I found the resulting “taxonomy” to be both fascinating and helpful.
First of all, the report identifies three factors used to differentiate meeting types:
- Intention (purpose and desired outcomes)
- Format (the strength of governing rules and rituals and the role of serendipity and tolerance for surprise)
- Participation profile (who is expected to attend, the expected leadership and participation styles, and the role relationships play among the group members)
Then we learn of the three-main groups into which the 16 kinds of meetings fall:
- We Review, Renew, Refine: Meetings with known participants and predictable patterns (meeting types 1-5)
- The Right Group to Create Change: Meetings with participants and patterns assembled to fit the need (meeting types 6-10)
- Efforts to Evaluate and Influence: Meetings Between Us and Them (meeting types 11-16)
In addition to the detailed descriptions of each meeting type, the Lucid folks provide a downloadable spreadsheet so that you can take an inventory of your organization´s meetings and also provide feedback about the taxonomy.
And the 17th type of meeting? Big meetings and conferences – related to, but a world apart from, everyday business meetings as the focus of their report.