RE: committee effectiveness
From: Douglas G. Larson (
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 05:53:35 -0700 (PDT)
Our Process Committee is endeavoring to do a community training on
improving committee effectiveness.  
Any suggestions/resources would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.  Melisa
Schuster at Great Oak Co-Housing

Melisa Schuster
mmsacsw [at]

One key ingredient to running effective meetings is creating a useful
agenda and then sticking to it. I have written a short article about
running meetings and creating agendas. Below is a short summary. I will
send the full article to you off list. 

1.  Meetings should be planned and organized. Make an agenda in advance
and distribute it to all attendees.
2.  Categorize each agenda item into one of three categories: Decisions,
Reporting, or Discussion.  No other categories are needed. 
3.  Clearly word each agenda item so that it contains an active verb.
Avoid nouns or noun phrases as agenda items. Items worded with an active
verb are clear and unambiguous as to the goal during the meeting
4.  Scale each agenda item to a manageable chunk.
5.  Plan the agenda items in the following sequence: 1st - Reporting
items, 2nd - Decision items, 3rd - Discussion items. Leave discussions
to last as they tend to drain people's energy. Do reporting and
decisions early when people's minds are sharpest. No more than 1 medium
to large discussion item per meeting. If the discussion items are small
2 or more per meeting is okay. 
6.  Assign people (or ask for volunteers) to work items that have arisen
during the meeting.  
7.  Summarize all decisions made during the meeting. 

Remember that a discussion is not a substitute for a decision and a
decision item is no place for a lengthy or even a moderate length

Douglas Larson,
Songaia Cohousing

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