What use is an Agenda?
Just what good is an agenda and where do they come from?
I ask this question as a result of the frustration and stress they cause and the time they devour in terms of meetings because of the way they are:
a) prepared and b) distributed.
First things first. What exactly is an agenda meant to do? A straight forward question. I like this definition from http://www.businessdictionary.com
“Ordered sequence of items to be discussed in a formal meeting. The objectives of an agenda include to (1) familiarize participants with the topics to be discussed and issues to be raised, (2) indicate what prior knowledge would be expected from the participants, and (3) indicate what outcome the participants may expect from the meeting.”
So that is perfectly clear and as a result the meeting should:
a) be run in an order dictated by the order of the agenda and cover only those items on the agenda
b) be centred around the activity of discussion run in a formal manner (minutes, managed and directed participation through a ‘Chair’ etc)
c) allow those attending to be able to fully participate, nothing ‘sprung on people’
d) have all the information necessary to achieve the objectives of the meeting
e) result in outcomes that are indicated within the agenda
So why, and this is where I get my ‘soapbox’ out, do we see so many agendas:
a) presented at the last minute, even as you sit down to the meeting
b) have item descriptions so vague that people are unsure what is required of them
e) rarely adhered to in the meeting resulting in a meeting certainly not conducted in order
c) fail to prescribe the decision or outcome required
d) have AOB added and go on for ever.
So when I pray to the God of Managed Meetings I will be asking for all agendas to be promoted to their rightful place and given the degree of importance they deserve.
I will be asking that who ever sets the agenda understands time constraints, sets the agenda against desired outcomes, provides those attending with an agenda in good time and fully describes what each item covers.