Using Flowcharts for Effective Meetings

“If we have a clear agenda in advance and we are fully present and fully contributing, the meetings do go much faster.” – Arianna Huffington, Co-founder of Huffington Post

Business meetings, when convened with serious intent, represent a congregation of minds that can further commercial objectives. The personnel attending such meetings must (ideally) value the time and effort expended during these collective sessions of brainstorming and trouble shooting. In this context, we may state that flowchart diagrams can play a central role in elevating the planning and outcomes of effective meetings. The inter-connected nature of these illustrations allows business persons to minutely plan the agenda of such meetings, define the objectives of effective meetings, and plot the outcomes of such congregations in real time. In addition, flowcharts can exert a democratic effect when copies of such printed illustrations are circulated in advance to all attendees.

Time is money, per an adage that finds deep resonance in modern business. In line with this, the planners of a modern meeting can append timelines inside flowcharts with a view to drive the conduct of effective meetings. These timelines, when viewed in conjunction with separate items on the agenda of a planned meeting, can empower the modern enterprise utilize time effectively. Therefore, the spatial expanse of a flowchart etched with suitable timelines can help arrest unnecessary expansion of conversations that drive effective meetings. In doing so, the flowchart emerges as a tool of modern business that creates and sustains the correct atmosphere for business negotiations. Additionally, the measured use of time casts beneficial effects on the work culture that pervades inside the modern organization. In a sense, we may say such flowcharts help to salvage some of the implied negative connotations that have come to be associated with meetings in the modern age.

The human imagination is a marvelous instance of the achievements wrought by natural evolution. The human intellect, when mated to analytical frameworks such as flowcharts, can lead the way to effective meetings in the modern world. In line with this, business managers can elect to etch the agenda inside a flowchart, and append various ancillary activities as deemed appropriate inside the diagram. Such a flowchart may emerge as a fully-fledged blueprint for a business meeting that decimates any scope for wastage of corporate resources. However, meticulous planning plays a central role in the effective conduct of such congregations. To achieve this, business managers may refer to legacy records of past meetings and apply their intellect to refine the outcomes for future effective meetings. In addition, business managers can create scope for interventions and suggestions from attendees by creating blank spaces inside the expanse of such flowcharts.

Orthodox design is not necessarily the ideal approach to generate the best outcomes in modern times. Bearing this in mind, flowchart diagrams can deviate from design orthodoxy in a bid to etch the outlines of effective meetings. Meeting planners and flowchart designers may create diagrams that originate from a single point on the left of the canvas and expand into a large expression of vertically stacked stages. Business managers can deploy this design approach as part of efforts to attract the maximum response from all attendees in effective meetings. The basic idea that animates this approach resonates with the ‘flat organization‘ – devoid of hierarchy – bandied about by certain management experts. The large number of vertically stacked stages connote an open house wherein every attendee is free to air his or her views on the agenda. We note that copious inter-connections may (or may not) emerge in such an illustration; we must concede this phenomenon as part of an attack on orthodox design strategies.

The outcomes of effective meetings must be duly recorded inside a structured document. Business managers can elect to create space for recording the outcomes outside the flowchart document. This technique can be easily implemented when digital technology is employed to record proceedings and outcomes. Audio files represent one manner of recordings, while shorthand can be deployed in similar scenarios. Alternatively, those recording the proceedings of effective meetings may input the essential points that describe the outcomes inside designated spaces within the flowchart. This technique promotes a certain immediacy, wherein items on the agenda are quickly matched to the outcomes, thereby promoting faster comprehension at the close of effective meetings. Businesses may choose such methods in line with their preferences or in tune with the quality of manpower involved in recording activities.

A simple matrix can represent the use of flowchart diagrams when business operators seek to fashion effective meetings. Certain points of action can populate the various stages of this flowchart. A series of clear objectives can feature in one section of the illustration, followed by an agenda, time/data/venue of the meeting, reminders sent to attendees a few days prior to the meeting, the assigning of roles to individual attendees, etc. Such an illustration essentially represents a roadmap that may result in effective meetings. In addition, we may view this roadmap as a template that allows any operator to prepare for effective meetings. That said; individual analysts may choose to add specific inputs to such illustrations in tune with the demands of a business enterprise.

Investments of time and effort in effective meetings can be justified when meeting organizers implement certain measures during the course of a business meeting. A flowchart that helps drive a sharp focus on the meeting agenda can be devised (and displayed) – as an exhibit for the benefit of attendees. This illustration may lack the cause-effect flow of information, owing to its agency as a deterrent to undesirable activities. The avoidance of group-think, a temporary ban on mobile phones and gadgets, the shelving of irrelevant issues, avoiding the wastage of time, cutting excessive breaks during the meeting, etc. can populate said illustration. We may state this flowchart serves as a visual reminder to boost productivity for all attendees. A separate section of this flowchart may encourage participants to engage in serious follow-up measures after the meeting has concluded.

Core groups that steer the business of an organization may explore the rationale of organizing effective meetings through a flowchart diagram. The exploratory aspects may feature inside a list of stages inside said illustration. Have participants thought through a certain situation, is there a necessity of a real-time conversation, what are the inputs that will mark progress, who will prepare the schedule of a meeting, can email address the situation, would a video conference add more value to a discussion, etc. The answers to these questions should precede effective meetings as and when these are organized. Additionally, the flowchart described above can be shared among multiple actors in a bid to elicit their opinion in such matters. We note the responses to these queries can add business value to effective meetings.

The queries, suggestions, and techniques outlined above underline the necessity of leveraging flowcharts in the planning and execution of effective meetings. Designers may explore variations in the outlines of these diagrams in the pursuit of innovation in modern business. However, the core component of such illustrations will always reside in the quality of content that features inside the flowchart. Human experience and human intellect represent some of the factors that play a central role in the design, creation, and return-on-investment of such creations. The congregations that follow these templates should trigger quality outcomes in the future.

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