Recently we watched meetings bloody meetings. This is a good introduction to the responsibilities for having a meeting. Great one line summary but almost nothing to do with my post.
I just left a meeting. I'm on a project to implement a student laptop program at the University where I work. Today's work group was supposed to go over the documentation section and decide where we were on the various needed documents. Early on I suggested we have 3 groups of documents to determine if we had none, what we had needed significant work, or if it only needed light work. Well the problem is we spent most of the meeting in discussion on topics that were tangentially associated with the document needed. We discussed who should own documents. We discussed where the documents live, should live, and oh yeah they will all be moved soon due to a documentation project we have going on. I could see one of my co-workers getting frustrated as was I due to meetings aura. The meeting, despite the best efforts of a good meeting organizer, was becoming a confused, talky thing.
There comes a point in a meeting when the organizer/runner of the meeting needs to Call attention, stop the current progress, restate the goals and curb tangents. There is a place for tangents to be discussed and they can be quite valuable, however when the meeting is about oranges, discuss oranges not boulders that might be swept up in a tornado and blown thousands of miles and land on one orange tree in a grove and possibly reduce the amount of oranges.
I am really beginning to hate meetings.