We’ve all been in meetings that start promising but leave participants more confused than before, without a clear outcome.
It happens more often than is healthy for our sanity and productivity.
Here’s why most meetings are so ineffective:
It’s not clear whether a meeting is for divergence or convergence.
Let me explain!
Whether you realize it or not, you’re either diverging or converging at any given point in your work.
(adapted from Tiago Forte)
Divergence means collecting ideas, expanding the possibilities, and exploring available options. It involves tasks such as researching, brainstorming, free writing, and drafting.
Convergence means selecting an option, compressing things, and pushing what you’re working towards a final deliverable. It involves tasks such as setting priorities, editing a final draft, and identifying concrete next steps.
I first heard about this concept in Building a Second Brain, and it blew my mind. Once you know it, you can’t help but notice it everywhere.
Now, most meetings go wrong because participants aren’t aligned whether they should be diverging or converging on something. Both phases are needed to move projects forward.
For example: You’ve just laid out all the options but end the meeting without converging on what will happen next. The result: no one takes action.
Or one party is still in the brainstorming phase, not committed to anything, while the other party has made up their mind and tries to nail down the next steps.
By consciously recognizing if you’re diverging or converging, you can get everyone in the right mindset, stir the meeting in the right direction, and ultimately get more done.