An Agenda: The Enemy of Productivity in Meetings!

No More Boring, Unproductive Meetings!

An agenda is the killer of productivity in meetings. Focus on specific outcomes expressed as deliverables instead. Drive for excellence on outcomes in all activities, and you will create the DNA for excellence for your organization and yourself. – Hugh Ballou, The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Yes, you read this correctly. Organizations hire me to run meetings, team planning sessions, board retreats, etc. Never once in over 22 years have I used an agenda for a meeting! I promise.

This is not just semantics. It is a paradigm shift. Think about meetings you have attended in the past. Think of a boring, unproductive meeting that you experienced. Maybe that particular session was not planned thoroughly. Maybe that particular session was planned with unclear outcomes. This is the nature of the problem: AGENDA = activity, and DELIVERABLES = results. Reframe your thinking and focus on outcomes, not on activity.

This is one paradigm shift that makes leaders more effective. Create and maintain a culture of excellence in the organization you lead. Focus on outcomes and excellence in every activity and every process. Transformational Leaders constantly build leadership skills in their inventory of leadership tools. Conflict management and conflict resolution become less of an issue when clarity of purpose takes away some potential for conflict.

Success is a mindset. Think about what you want to achieve and make it happen.

Start now!

Conducting Power Packed MeetingsBonus: Get my free article and video on Conducting Power-Packed Meetings HERE


Hugh Ballou
The Transformational Leadership Strategist

Subscribe to The Transformational Leadership Strategist by Email

(c) 2012 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

Hugh Ballou (Author)

  • Hugh: Your counsel was immensely valuable, and I (we), Kathy, Tom and I get the point: talk about deliverables. We definitely will starting next meeting or conference call.

    And, I am working on writing my SNAP 25 times, also very good advice. I will send you the top two or three for plusing.

    It was a phenomenal forum, and I am very confident that business will come out of it.

    It was great to meet you. You will see lots of progress in Qi Matrix at the next forum.

    Thank you very much for all your help!

    Merry Christmas,

    Mike Williamson, Ph.D.
    DIRECT: 714-622-4787
    Mobile: 714-733-3001

  • Stephan Jan

    Why is it an either/or? Why not BOTH an agenda AND deliverables? My experience is that an agenda, ciruculated in advance of the meeting, is an invaluable tool to getting results. Chiefly, attendees are prepared, and the meeting stays focused. Why are deliverables anathema to that? I would think they should be complimentary. What am I missing?
    BTW: your blog page is AWESOME!

  • Great comment.

    Changing from an agenda thinking (which is about “activity) to deliverables thinking (which is about results) is a major paradigm shift for many people. So, taking agenda out of the language facilitates a new way of thinking.

    The point: focus on results and not on activity

    I have used and taught this principle for 22 years with great success.

    Thanks for the conversation.


  • Anonymous


    I agree, my experience is that a specific agenda will generate only one general path of consciousness.  Participants are constrained  within the narrow boundary of one person’s idea of what activities or topics of discussion will lead to the desired outcome.  When people only “follow” the agenda they can have an audience mentality, they sit back and watch.

    When I have told people that we need to have a meeting to find a solution to a problem, make a decision, etc.  (outcome) and we want to explore each person’s ideas and perspective, that is when the best ideas and solutions are uncovered, not just the one(s) I had in mind.

  • Missy

    Great Blog Hugh!! Thank you! 

  • Bud James

    I agree that deliverables are the key to an effective meeting.
    However, I have turned-down many meetings that have no stated agenda let alone an outcome statement. I am not fond of “happenings” or meetings for meetings sake, which is what I think you are talking about, and I fully agree with you.
    Are you familiar with stand-up Scrum meetings that are highly purpose-driven?

  • Pingback: Join Hugh Ballou for a 3 month Leadership Mentoring Cohort | Chicks Connect | Women Networking()