I observed a great meeting recently on a client site.

At 10.00 am, the heads of function gathered in the cafeteria (which is at the centre of the building). Some of them brought along their senior staff members where required. Everyone grabbed a coffee and headed into a side room with tall tables and glass walls. The meeting went like this:
MD: Anything strange to report?
Production: We were scheduled to build 2,100 [products] yesterday but there was a delay in the delivery of 300 [components] so we only completed 1,800.
MD: (Off-colour joke about Just In Time production)
Procurement: There was a delay at customs, the [components] actually arrived here in the middle of the night so we’re almost back on track.
Production: Yes, I’m scheduled to build 2,200 today, plus the 300 to finish held over from yesterday.
Production Staffer: Problem – we’re six operatives short on the manufacturing crew today. That chest infection that’s going around …
HR: I’ve already talked to the team that are coming off shift now. Four of them can work another half shift and we’ve got calls in to the team on this evening’s shift to see if we can get any of them to come in early. We should be more or less covered.
MD: But you still have a larger quota than usual for today …
Sales: I’ve already talked with Production about that and we’ve agreed which [products] to delay. There’s a lot of one-off stuff on the line at the moment; a day or two delay won’t matter a whole lot …
Logistics: I’ve talked to the delivery people and they’re going to shave some time off the delivery schedule to try and make up some of the shortfall. The local stuff, we’re going to deliver ourselves.
Sales: And the two big orders we have in this week are going to be fine.
Finance: Fractional hit on the P&L – mostly because of the overtime for the production guys.
MD: Right. Anything else on production? No? Okay – what about the four kids we have in on the internship programme?
HR: I’ve got two of them this week, fully occupied on updating the database.
Production Staffer: I’ve got one shadowing me, she’s going to be finished tomorrow
Marketing: Give her to me, we’ve got some research coming in this week and we could do with an extra body to process it.
Logistics: If any of them have a driver’s license, I could do with some help for the local delivery runs this week.

And so forth …

The whole thing took less than 15 minutes. It was conducted in a “just the facts ma’am,” no time-wasting (everyone was standing up), truly informative style. It started at 10.00am so that everyone had had 90 minutes to identify any issues that needed raising within their own departments and in some cases, to sort out solutions before arriving at the meeting.

This organisation runs one of these meetings every day. If everything is running smoothly, the meeting takes 5 minutes and everyone gets to say a quick hello over a fresh cup of coffee. If things aren’t running smoothly, everyone who needs to be there is there and the issues are quickly identified, brainstormed, and solved.

That’s my kind of meeting!