The only three reasons to attend a meeting

In “Never put up with low engagement meetings” I talked about removing people as a strategy for fixing broken meetings. This section from The Manager’s Handbook had a tidy little summary of how to decide who needs to be there:

There are three ways in which participants can contribute to a meeting: 1) input, 2) decision, 3) commitment. If a person cannot make any of these three contributions, don’t invite the person because this person just needs to be informed by broadcasting the meeting notes.

Here’s what I think after reading that:

  • It’s basically RACI applied to meetings. You invite the Responsible, Accountable, and Consulted people. You send the Informed people notes.
  • If someone is in a meeting just for “visibility”, they shouldn’t be there at all. It’s a waste of their time, plus a fly on the wall hurts psychological safety. Send them notes.
  • If someone is there for “input” but they don’t say anything, then they either need to be removed or questioned. Try interpreting their silence as disagreement.
  • Don’t mistake “commitment” for “buy-in.” Commitment in this case means you cannot move forward without that specific person committing (even if they disagree).
  • The only way any of this can work is if someone takes and distributes good meeting notes. Identify a note taker at every meeting.

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