Posted tagged ‘meetings’

‘Meeting’ the challenge

January 26, 2012

On the way to a meeting?

I’m not sure if hit US TV show the West Wing quite counts as ‘retro’ yet but either way it certainly was unexpected when it popped into my mind on the way to my fifth meeting of the day.

The scene that sprang to mind was one where the hyperactive Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, is scheduled for an early morning meeting with someone from NASA. He goes to meeting under duress from his ever faithful assistant Donna and does his best to get out of there as quick as he can. When confronted about his lack of interest in the meeting he lays a little bit of intellectual smack down on the poor NASA administrator before commenting:

I prepare even for meetings I don’t want to go to. I wasn’t improvising. You guys are lost in space.

If we forget the awful space pun (Aaron Sorkin on an off day me thinks) the rest of his comment really resonates with me.

Ask yourself this question: How many times have you had a busy week and thought to yourself, I’ll just skip reading the papers for that meeting and work it out as I go? I know I’ve done it and I can state with cast iron certainty that nearly every single person I have sat in a meeting with has also done so at one time or another. Indeed, I have heard one manager tell me that she didn’t have time to read the papers for a meeting because she had real work to do.


Senior Management Teams: Strategic focus or organisational admin?

August 30, 2011

Making the big decisions or checking the latest performance report?

All councils have management team meetings; indeed, my guess is that all large organisations have management team meetings of some sorts.

At their best these management teams provide the strategic direction for the council; dealing with large issues and ensuring that there is a consistent vision across the organisation. In addition, the team meetings are important opportunities to share information across the council, to ensure that important messages are cascaded down to the rest of the staff, and hopefully to also challenge each other over how the organisation should be structured.

I’ve been to a wide range of these management team meetings as a guest over the past few years and therefore always take a big interest in the agenda of these meetings. The thing that struck me most was the proliferation of basic admin tasks that were covered by these supposedly strategic meetings.

I think this stems from a misunderstanding of what the management team is there for. Instead of being strategic many management teams seem to think that their job is simply to ‘see’ everything that is going on within the council.


Talking about talking

March 15, 2011


Be careful or the public might tell you what they actually want

Here at We Love Local Government we love a good guest post, and here indeed is a guest post worth loving.  If you’ve got something to do with local government you’d like to write about from any angle (even if you think we’d disagree with you) then e-mail it to us at  Until you do though, read this and enjoy.

Reading the recent WLLG post on the way in which councils talk to local people brought back some unpleasant memories for me. I used to be a scrutiny officer. Without knowing much (ok, anything) about the art or science of “community engagement” I and my colleagues, with backbench Members, periodically organised public meetings to inform scrutiny committees’ views on various topics of local interest.
One particularly good one was on the subject of a high-profile local community event. The council and a number of other “local partners” – including the police – wanted to make some significant changes to the way it was run. Predictably, local people – including the organisers of the event – didn’t. Predictably, there was a massive bunfight, generating far more heat than light. We found it difficult – practically impossible, in fact – to get through the agenda, because attendees kept butting in and heckling. It was all the chairman could do to keep order. In the end we got through it but it was a hairy experience and I, as a relatively junior officer, wiped my brow and silently vowed to myself that I’d never do it again. (more…)

Meetings, watches and time wasting

November 24, 2010


Meetings with graphical characters; that would make me turn up on time!


An e-mail in our inbox ( tickled me so, following the success of the drunk senior manager, I thought I’d reprint it in full…

If you have similar or better stories please just send them along. We might even have to make this a weekly feature if we keep getting so many good ones.

A funny story that I should share with you from this morning. I was sat in the programme management office, which leads onto the meeting room. One person turns up at 8.45am, says that he has a 8.30am meeting which I know nothing about. He shrugs his shoulders and wanders off. Another person arrives at 9.05am claiming that they are there for the 9am meeting. I said the other guy just left and that he thought it was at 8.30am. She stays for some idle chit chat, shrugs her shoulders and wanders off. Another person arrives at 9.20 claiming the she is also there for the 9am meeting. I said she should wait and I will call the others however she could only stay until 9.30am and therefore left. Finally the fourth member of the 9am meeting arrives at 9.35am. I thought about explaining the situation but didn’t bother.

It was amusing the fact that a) no one actually turned up on time even according to the time they thought the meeting was and b) no one seemed to care.

But fear not, these are the people who are going to lead the Council to a bright new future!

Fear not indeed; with people as concerned about time keeping as that a few budget cuts should be no problem at all. You’ve just gotta love local government.