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Never ‘discuss’ anything

Tags: Be interesting | Impact | Influencing

19th June

I hate the word ‘discuss’.

And I see it on practically every agenda.

In fact, I bet you’ll be ‘discussing’ loads of things in meetings with colleagues and customers today…

And why do I hate the word ‘discuss’?

Because it isn’t clear what the output is. How do you know you’ve finished ‘discussing’? You don’t. So you keep going. And going…

That’s why so many agenda items beginning with ‘discuss’ lead to conversations that are over-long, over-detailed, over-dull… and then don’t cause anything to happen as a result.

So, what can we use instead?

Simple. Stress the outputs of the discussion.

And these outputs will usually begin with one of two words beginning with A – Agreement or Action. In other words, after your ‘discussion’, you will have Agreed/made a decision; or you’ll have identified the next Actions to take.

This means that the standard agenda item…

  • Discuss X

… could be written as one of these:

  • Agree the way forward with X
  • Make the go/no-go decision with X
  • Decide whether we do X or Y or nothing. And then identify relevant actions
  • Agree responsibilities and actions for progressing X

Introducing topics this way ensures everyone is focusing on the End Game.

Which means you’re more likely to get there.

Which is much more interesting – and quicker – than just having a terribly long, terribly boring, just plain terrible ‘discussion’…

Action Point

Review today’s agendas.

And replace every ‘discuss’ with something focusing on your desired output.

(Oh, and if you can’t think what the output is, remove it from the agenda. After all, if there’s no output, why do it? And as the saying goes… if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else).