The Ten Commandments of Meetings

Recently, we were in a client Board Meeting. We got a lot done that day, but one of the members of the Board said something to the effect of “all of their meetings weren’t like that.” That reminded us of something that Jerold Panas wrote in one of his books that we’d like to share with you. Jerry writes:

“Many times, and for endless hours, the multitudes gathered for meetings, seeking profound wisdom and guidance. But confusion reigned. Oft times, they were delayed in starting, late in ending. And verily I tell you, as the hours sped, the wisdom fled.

“It is recorded that the more often the people met, the less they accomplished. The needs were great, but the ways were hidden.

“Then from many came voices crying out, ‘Though I labor faithfully, I cannot attend all meetings for which I am summoned.’

“At last, the chief, old and wise, hearing of those things decreed that something must be done. There was prepared a Tablet, which contained ten great wisdoms.

I. Thou shall not meet if the matter can be resolved by other means.

II. Thou shall make the purpose of each meeting known to those thou summoned.

III. Thou shall bring together only those whose presence is needed.

IV. Thou shall start at the time announced, and stop when it is right so to do.

V. Thou shall not run beyond.

VI. Thou shouldst combine into one meeting those items which need not be separated.

VII. Prepare thy thoughts before thou speak, that the time of others be not wasted.

VIII. Schedule a meeting not in haste, for the day is short in which to do that which thou hast to do.

IX. Prepare to cancel or not to meet if there be no need.

“And in time the people learned and obeyed these writings. As they forsook their old ways, new hours untold were given unto them. They were free to do great and important things. They saw that it was good.”

And you ask about the Tenth Commandment? One who was very wise in years and knowledge proclaimed to all: “Cancel the meeting and save the donuts.”