Ways to avoid unproductive, dispiriting meetings…

Dennis Sparks

There are few things more dispiriting than unproductive meetings. 

A veneer of polite conversation disguises a lack of serious and deep analysis. Conflict about important assumptions and points of view are avoided or minimized.

When such meetings are the norm rather than the exception, the energy required for the continuous improvement of teaching and learning is depleted rather than created and sustained.

Here are several recommendations offered by Dan Rockwell to avoid those problems and “ignite meetings”:

1. Build relations with team members that enable candor. Distance produces fear; connection courage.

2. Systematize dissent. Require the entire team to speak for and against the issue on the table.

3. Ask those who originate ideas to explain why they won’t work.

4. Develop three solutions and have everyone defend all three.

What is missing from Rockwell’s list?

5 Responses to “Ways to avoid unproductive, dispiriting meetings…”


  1. 1 justinbaeder June 4, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I like the “systematize dissent” point because it seems to de-personalize any disagreement. Any decision made with no serious discussion is likely to encounter resistance later, when the implementation issues arise (as they always do). Great post!

  2. 3 Chris Munro June 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Agree with all of this Dennis. It takes a strong team leader (and one with high EQ) who is willing to persevere with “teaching” the team to follow agreed protocols (the systematized bit?). Despite good intentions, a poorly led meeting undermines all of the relationship building. Taking a coaching stance, these recommendations encourage participation (and give everyone a voice), offer choice, raise awareness AND bolster responsibility and accountability. Thanks.


  1. 1 Att gilla läget eller mer om positivt tänkande… | reflektioner och speglingar II... Trackback on February 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

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