So in this series, we are finding some similarities between NASCAR and most corporate meetings… or at least the ones I have been involved in.
So back to my point, how are most meetings and NASCAR similar? In case you forgot Point 1:
1. Most meetings are like the track of most NASCAR races: circular. There is rarely a clear destination, despite the elegant five-page agendas. Meetings, like any race, should have a clear destination point or point of resolution. Laps going around the same points are similar to the 200 laps of a race. It leaves most involved in the meeting waiting and (if like me) wishing for the crash to break up the circular motion around the same topics.
Now, on with the remaining portion of the list:
2. Memorable Meetings are judged by the crash. I remember when I was younger listening to my grandfather talk about the races. The topic of “the crash” always came up and seemed to be the more interesting portion of conversation. Think over the last ten meetings you have attended in the corporate world. Can you remember one major event of any of them? Any major progress made in any of the last ten? Now scan over the last 100 meetings. I bet the meetings where there was a “crash” are the ones coming quickest to the forefront of your mind right?
You don’t have to admit it, I will though. I tend to remember either the meetings where I was involved in a “crash” with someone else or there was a major “crash” at the meeting where I was the spectator. The fact remains, if a meeting is not properly planned and kept to a minimum, the crash, as in most in NASCAR races, will be inevitable.
Like the NASCAR races, meetings often involve high paced, high staked deals whether they be planning for a major project or undertaking or reviewing past results from a sales contest. The emotions are intense, and every single driver in the room is racing in their minds around a circular track. The longer they are there, the hotter the tires get with the internal traction of their nerves. The engines rev higher and higher. Before too long, one slight modulation in a turn and then you have it. A pile up. Thrilling for some, yet destructive for all.
3. The greater talent is in the pit crew. Perhaps I was wired early in life to be an HR nut, but I was always amazed by the pit crew. I have personally sat and watched mechanics at Wal-Mart change the oil in my car and have yet to find one moving with the speed, accuracy, and focus of any of those I witnessed during a NASCAR race. Truth be told, the meetings held in most corporate settings are only successful because of the pit crew waiting outside of the meeting room who are ready to move with precision, speed, and diligence to actually get something done.
I must admit, I have watched movies and some documentaries about NASCAR. I am not a total hater of the sport. With that said, I have noticed the more successful drivers depend a great deal on the talent in the pit crew. As the driver is in the heat of the metaphorical battle, the pit crew chief is directing him, monitoring the car, and providing constant updates, advice, and other important directives. The ideal notion here is that the driver, or the one in the meeting, is depending on the talent outside of the room. Unfortunately, this does not always happen in Corporate America.
So what now? Well, we will continue to explore how to have effective and most importantly, SHORTER meetings. Think about the past couple of meetings you have attended and mark down some similarities noted in these posts. Or if you like, go into your next meetings with this in mind, especially if you are in charge of the meeting. Who knows, you might have someone in your meeting like me… checked out of the race until, of course, there is a crash!