Do you struggle with meetings veering off topic? Are you frustrated by too many ideas and not enough action? My brilliant sister Lynn’s tactic will help immediately and immensely.
We just wrapped up two days of strategic planning in the mountains with a company that will soon be a household name. They’re run and funded by really smart, really passionate people, but there’s a curse that comes with such genius.
It’s easy to lose focus. It’s easy for meetings to run really long and leave people drained and frustrated.
That’s why Lynn, our company’s Chief Plate Spinner, introduced a parking lot system to our two-day planning session.
A parking lot is simply a piece of paper where you make note of off-task topics worthy of later discussion.
When things start to veer off-topic in your meeting, feel free to yell “SQUIRREL!” (Lynn made a sign). Whoever’s minding the parking lot writes down (parks) the intruding topic for later discussion.
It’s not that these ideas aren’t important or good. It’s that they shift focus away from what you intentionally chose to make happen during the meeting.
Smart people are always going to generate way more ideas than can possibly be discussed in a given time frame. By introducing the parking lot, you’re satisfying everyone. You give your idea generators a place to store their random bursts of inspiration, and you’re giving those entrusted with making sure the work gets done a magic talisman to return those dreamers to the task at hand.
At the end of your meeting, review your parking lot. Make time at the end to address the squirrel topics. Are they worthy of action now? If not, schedule someone to do something with each one for follow-up. Identify next steps and set deadlines.
You’ll be amazed how much ground you can cover efficiently and effectively.
Like our mountain retreat, being that focused and productive feels like… paradise.