A meeting taxonomy is not something we have proposed. You can search the internet for “types and types of meetings” or read books about meetings to find many ways to organize meetings by type. There are usually between 4-6 types of meetings on most lists, including Decision Making and Issue Resolution meetings.
We started by creating a set of six types, and then a list of all possible meetings. Then we tried to match them.
It was frustrating. It didn’t matter what list we started with; within minutes, we found an example that didn’t fit.
Google, for example, highlights the list of 6 types of meetings by MeetingSift and declares it the definitive list. It is very similar to many other lists.
- Status Update Meetings
- Information sharing meetings
- Decision-Making Meetings
- Problem Solving Groups
- Innovation Meetings
- Team Building Meetings
Tell me what you think. Which of these fits the board meeting? What about the retrospective project? You can combine these types with meetings similar to those you might find on your calendar.
We asked why every meeting we didn’t like each. We asked ourselves, “Why?”
We are focused on driving tangible business outcomes and we felt we needed to be more specific. We discovered that there are three main factors that influence how you approach a meeting.
- The Meeting Intention
- The Meeting Format
- The Profile of Expected Participation
These factors are used to describe 16 types of meetings. Our current taxonomy also includes a reference to a 17th type that is not within our reach.
The Differentiators: Intention and Format. Participation Profile.
Before we get into the details of the types, let’s look at some of the factors that distinguish them.
Meeting with Intention
The purpose of a meeting and the desired outcomes are often what define its intention. This is how we can understand why people hold this type of meeting. What does it do?
Meetings can have two main outcomes: a human connection or a work product. Many attempts to categorize meetings focused only on the work product. This often led to poor advice.
One example is that the purpose of a decision-making meeting is:
- A decision (the product of work)
- The commitment of the people in the room to this decision (a human connection outcome).
It’s very easy to have a meeting where you achieve 1 (a decision), but fail to reach 2 (commitment), which will result in a failure to deliver the desired business outcome. You’ve probably been in meetings where you were discussing a decision that you believed was already made.
Our taxonomy tries to consider both types of outcomes when describing the meeting intent.
We used to use a standard structure of “formal”, “informal”, and “board” meetings to distinguish between them. However, it was not practical and we quickly abandoned it.
We found that boards do have rules, which they are required to follow, but that this did not necessarily mean that all meetings followed a strict structure. Board meetings often include lots of informal conversation that is then formalized to meet legal requirements.
We would, however, have considered Agile teams’ daily stand-up meetings as informal meetings. We run them and I don’t always wear shoes. The daily stand-up follows a set of rules, despite the casual social atmosphere. Each update consists of three items, each lasting no more than two minutes. We never problem solve during meetings.
The difference between formal and informal revealed more about participants’ perceptions of social anxiety than the format or type of meeting. Because I am in charge of the meeting and confident in my role, I perceive interviews and stand-ups as informal. Although I doubt that everyone who I interview views it as an informal chat, I can imagine that our stand-up might feel very rigid to someone who isn’t used.
We found that the quality of the governing rules and rituals had a greater impact on meeting success than the distinction between formal and informal. This means that the daily stand-up meeting is very ritualistic. Board meetings and brainstorming sessions follow governing rules, but not strictly, while initial sales calls and team meetings are held within very limited boundaries. are birds mammals
However, this didn’t explain the variation in meeting formats. We noticed that the project status update meeting shared certain characteristics with the board meeting. However, these meetings are not governed by the same rules and laws as the board meeting. While the purpose of project updates is the same, which is to share information about the project’s status and manage any emerging changes, there are many variations in the way that people update the status. Some teams are rigid and very structured, while others are more informal and flexible. Our “governing rituals” didn’t work in this instance.
A dislike of surprises is the common thread that all project status updates meetings share. You’ll see it also in board meetings. Project managers don’t want to be surprised at how far the team has fallen or what direction they have taken the project. This is a problem for board members as well. These meetings are not for the faint of heart.
Surprises can be bad for project updates. However, other meetings are set up to find something new. The problem-solving meeting, get-to-know-you meeting, and the innovation meeting are all geared towards serendipity. People don’t know what they will get but they want to make sure they have a productive meeting.
We considered both the format and content of meetings when categorizing them.
- The strength or rituals of the governing rules
- Serendipity and tolerance of surprise