By Walter Boomsma,
Abbot Village Press is going to be the publisher of the Piscataquis Community Elementary School Yearbook for 2014-2015. Frankly, it’s not so much a commercial venture. My rewards for being the publisher include an opportunity to work with the kids, in part because a requirement for this year is “more student involvement” in the process.
In an effort to achieve that, we assembled a “yearbook team” of interested fifth and sixth graders to “help with the yearbook.” These kids were willing to sacrifice their lunch recess to do just that.
But after the first couple of meetings, we realized there was a lot of wheel-spinning (or treading water-chose your idiom) happening. I’ll take credit for the all too common mistake we’d made.
And I should know better. I’d recently sent some colleagues a cartoon that showed some folks sitting around a conference table. The caption was, “We will keep having meetings until we figure out why we’re not getting anything done.” Most laugh because they recognize the truth. A recent survey showed that company CEO’s spend an average of one third of their working time in meetings. Of that, it’s estimated 50% is wasted.
Since I’ve been busy preparing for our Leadership Conference on Sunday, I find myself wondering how this might apply to Grange Leadership. I don’t have any data, just questions. How much time does the average Grange Master spend “working” at the job? Of that time, how much is spent in meetings? Of that meeting time, how much is wasted? (Note this doesn’t just apply to masters, anyone who has leadership responsibility could go through the exercise.)
Most organizations love meetings. The Grange is certainly no exception. But our founding leaders didn’t create an organization so there would be meetings to attend.
I’m hinting at the error I’d made with the Yearbook Team. Simply stated, we hadn’t established clear-cut outcomes. We were just getting together to work on the yearbook—as long as everybody looked busy it didn’t matter what they were doing. We needed some outcomes—a reason to work! Once we established “deliverables,” (for example specific pages that needed designing) the kids really got focused and started working. I’m not surprised that we are producing more than we planned. The kids now have specific goals and are coming up with ideas and plans that I certainly hadn’t thought of!
As Pomona Overseer, I have answered the Worthy Master’s question countless times. “Worthy Overseer, are the labors of the day complete?” The answer is always the same. I rise, and reply with enthusiasm, “They are, Worthy Master!” I’m now asking myself whether or not I’m telling the truth! Why did we meet? What did we plan to accomplish? Did we make any progress toward the outcomes we are trying to achieve? How do we know if we’re finished?
I suppose it wouldn’t be good form, but maybe the next time I’m asked, “Worthy Overseer, are the labors of the day complete?” I could answer, “I’m not sure! What did we hope to accomplish tonight!?” My tongue is only slightly in my cheek.
“Let’s make some news, take some photos of it, and share it!”