Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together – Harvard Business Review

Why are so many meetings so unproductive?

Many professionals, fed up with calendars chock-full of long, disorganized, soul-bruising sessions, resort to uncharitable, even cynical explanations:

  • Leaders are too lazy to craft thoughtful agendas.
  • Managers hold pointless meetings as a way to flex their power.
  • Distracted attendees, selfishly preoccupied with their own work, come woefully unprepared.

But if we want an accurate, rather than merely cathartic answer to the question, we’d be wise to consider Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by misunderstanding.

After more than a decade of working with prominent organizations to fix broken meetings, I’ve come to learn that many bad meetings are more adequately explained by a simple, flawed assumption. We assume that intuitive problem solving, a highly effective approach for individuals, will, in the context of meetings, prove just as effective for groups. But often, it does not.

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By Molly Raddant
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