The difference between an agenda and a process

Day 5 of my book writing challenge, and the difference between an agenda and a process.

An agenda is a list of items that someone has decided should be discussed during a meeting. There does not need to be any connection between them, nor a thought on how important they are.

I once worked for about three months with an organization to change how they were working and was then given ten minutes at the management team’s meeting to present the new way of working and for them to make the decision to make the change or not. Most of the managers there had seen and given feedback on the proposal beforehand, but they had never spent time as a group to discuss it. I asked why I only got ten minutes and said it was a bit short, but they had so many other points to cover during that meeting, so it was all the time they had.

This experience is one reason I am so skeptical about agendas. They only allow the people at the meeting to see if they agree or disagree on a topic and solve some simple problems. They have no time, focus or energy to go deeper and find creative solutions..

Switch the focus from the agenda to what you want to achieve and what outputs you want from the meeting. Then create a process to help the participants move from where they are at the start of the meeting to an output that fulfills the goal of the meeting. A process might look similiar to an agenda as it consists of several steps, and the facilitator needs to plan it before the meeting. The big difference is that each step of the process is used to reach one goal at the end of the meeting.

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