A week ago, I ran a site meeting combining two separate meetings together on a multi-tenanted floor. I was appealed to the idea of killing two birds with one stone. The corporate world really seems to slow down in July and August. Most of the key decision makers are either on vacation or catching up on their work coming back from a vacation. It proved rather difficult to plan a meeting. When I finally secured a time, I thought: Wouldn’t it be great to finish the tasks of two meetings with just one? We can even push this project forward ahead of the schedule. What a great idea.
My meeting was planned in two halves. The first half of the meeting was a review of the existing site conditions. The second half was dedicated to review the design layout. We barely got started when our head designer excused himself and jumped straight into the space layout review. A couple of others followed. It didn’t take long before the meeting extended into two. I attempted to take on the impossible task of juggling between both meetings. In the aftermath of this disaster, I took some time to reflect. Where exactly did my logic fail?
I found something very interesting about human nature, or nature in general. It has to do with The Path of Least Resistance. Everything takes on the path of least resistance, from air to water to humans. We are wired to take the easiest path, often to neglect alternate paths. For example, it is easier for the designer to review the layout plan than to review the existing ceiling conditions. The designer might have even reasoned that it was more efficient for him to review what he does best. By introducing two separate purposes, I opened an opportunity for people to follow their own path of least resistance in the context of this meeting. The engineers naturally gravitate toward the ceiling review while the designers gravitate toward the layout review. Inputs from all expertises are required to resolve any site problems therefore it is crucial to be present.
This experience has increased my awareness of our intrinsic nature to follow the path of least resistance. I have learned to limit my future meetings to one purpose and to communicate clearly to all parties beforehand.
If you find yourself managing a similar situation, there could be an option to appoint two separate individuals responsible for note taking and distribution. In most cases, this situation can be avoided by preparing ahead of time.