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Leaders Design their Meeting Agendas Around Questions

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We hold meetings to make collective team decisions.

It is useful to remind yourself about the primary purpose of business activities, especially when COVID-19 is currently demanding decisions, as opposed to debates, amongst organizational leadership teams.

So it was good to be reminded of a useful practice tip by Steven Rogelberg writing in the Harvard Business Review.

A good agenda is the first step to a successful meeting. If you wish to focus minds and prevent people from throwing up issues rather than solutions, turn your ‘topics’ into questions that drive forward the outcomes you need during periods of uncertainty or turmoil.

For example, instead of a general topic like “COVID-19 Strategic Planning – The Next Steps?”. Reposition it in terms of the outcome-based challenges such as

“What are the key operational processes that yield the greatest return and how to prioritize them to aid fiscal recovery? or

‘The next six months – What can we anticipate, and how should we respond?

Other Tips and Considerations

The other suggestions I have are:

* Preparing questions, or holding 1-2-1 conversations before with colleagues to determine what is foremost on their minds, will identify the primary topics and even who should be in the room at this time.

* Getting the right people present: If a poor IT platform has held back a move to online sales – get the relative IT person in the room and ask them what they need. If a lack of warehouse space has limited distribution, get the staff in to explain what they need.

Now is not the time for old ways of working and old hierarchies to ‘filter’ direct questions down to the staff.


As Prof Steven Rogelberg reminds us ‘Ultimately, a questions-based approach to your agenda can bring focus, engagement, and better performance to your meetings’. Engagement, direction and performance – now those are three attributes all leaders strive for.

This article was first printed in Linked by the author on April 27, 2020


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