Thinking Styles in Meetings

Frank outlines four thinking styles in meetings, by mapping focus (single, multiple) against perspectives (single, multiple):

By FOCUS I refer to: What does the assembled group want to get out of the meeting? What is the intended outcome? Too often we venture into meetings (me included) with very different expectations.

By PERSPECTIVES I refer to the diversity of views that are carried by the meeting attendees. It is important that we are able to hear and incorporate these views where appropriate. Too often we hear a view that is contrary to our own and we shut-down our thinking because we are of course – Right! It is important to be able to incorporate diverse perspectives because it is through diverse approaches that we are more likely to gain traction on difficult issues.

This gives four quadrants – adversarial, group-think, disparate, and parallel. He concludes by noting that all four styles have their place in a meeting:

Most meetings will not stay within the one quadrant throughout, often they will tend to move between quadrants. We shouldn’t seek to eliminate this movement entirely, rather we must get participants to maximise their time in the parallel space and minimise their time in the less productive thinking spaces. We do this by using a range of techniques that assist meeting participants to move from Adversarial, Disparate and Group-think into Parallel thinking. When such techniques are incorporated, interactions becomes more focused, inclusive and outcome oriented.

Read more: Think Quick

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