Invitations, Etiquette, Presence, and Meetings

There have been a couple of occasions recently where i feel i’ve behaved poorly by virtue of being a bit ungracious and a bit reactive when invitations i’ve issued to meetings and workshops with to carefully-constructed memberships have been forwarded onto other potential attendees.  i’ve been thinking about this a fair bit lately, and about the constructive-vs-avoiding-vs-aggressive dimensions our local departmental culture has been scrutinised under with the corporate-psychology industry’s tools from Human Synergistics International.  This thinking has not led me to any reconciliation of behaviour, feelings, and constructiveness, but i can offer the following points:

  • Technological Controls:  The cursory searches i’ve made to find ways of stopping people from forwarding Outlook/Exchange meeting invitations to other people have led to a dead end (for example, here’s an eggheadcafe question-and-response on the topic), though it does look like Google Calendar supports options around forwarding permissions.  However, it’s completely clear that breaking away from the enterprise calendaring system is neither a good nor a teamly option, and there are anyway remaining questions about interoperability with all the Outlook users and the persistent likelihood that word-of-mouth and other avenues will remain open for uninvited guests to arrive.  Technological controls don’t seem to be the answer.
  • Behavioural Controls: When raising meeting invitations i’ve starting trying to make it as clear as possible whether the session is open to all comers, welcomes suggestions for additional attendees, accepts substitute attendees, or is strictly intended only for the addressed invitees.  This is proving to be only slightly successful, and i’m unconvinced that it’s for the right reasons.
  • Connectedness and Representation: Increasingly, i’m feeling suspicious that my perceptions of the style and extent to which other people are connected with their communities (their department, project team, cubicle neighbours, other participants in their business processes, etc) and the style and extent to which other people are empowered, willing, and able to serve a representative role in a solutions-exploring-consulting context are quite different from reality.  There’s no sense here of better or worse, it’s just a difference that i’m trying to understand and learn to better navigate.
  • What’s The Problem?: There’s also the possibility that our organisation should become much more organic, and we should run the whole of our information-technology-as-a-business operations like a gigantic rolling unconference supported by whiteboards and user stories and innovations and experiments and research and proofs-of-concept and amoebic, shifting groups of highly-motivated people.  Throwing away the book, heaving off the shackles of hierarchy, abandoning financial-calendar-based budget-driven short-term strategic planning, and leading ourselves into the future together!  In other words, maybe the concept of a meetings and of projects should be replaced by lots of needs-based collaborations, and everybody becomes welcome to participate in everything.

Meanwhile, i’ll continue amending my behaviour and work on being more gracious and less reactive when meeting invitations get forwarded around.

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