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Week 3 - Making Meetings Count
Sun Tzu’s Art of the Meeting
November 4, 2013 - November 8, 2013

For many, the modern parody of a meeting is one in which everyone comes together at least once a week for the purposes of scheduling the next meeting.  Throughout my education, this is an apt summary of many of the meetings that I have attended.  I have personally lead meetings that were unfocused and wasted the time of people in attendance.  That was in complete contrast to what I witnessed during my first week at AACP when there was a meeting to prepare for the Board of Directors (BOD) meeting that will occur during my third rotation week. 

First, the concept of holding a “pre-meeting” was novel to me.  A big fault of meetings is coming together unprepared.  There is a significant amount of groundwork that must be laid in order to hold a meeting that accomplishes the tasks at hand.  This is no exception when considering the approaching BOD meeting.  The pre-meeting packet for the BOD meeting is 277 pages long!  That is 277 pages for a 2 day long meeting.  Without proper preparation, the Board members would not be able to cover the material in the allotted time.  
 
The staff must also be experts on all 277 pages of the agenda.  Thus, I found myself sitting in a pre-meeting during my first week.  The meeting was a time for the staff to iron out kinks ahead of the Board flying into Alexandria for the meeting.  The meeting was incredibly focused and directed.  Everyone in that room had done their homework.  I felt a great sense of awe about the organization at that moment.  It was also the moment that I realized the goal of staff at AACP was to lead through service. 

Through the service of the staff, the AACP BOD members are able to perform their duty of service to the profession of academic pharmacy.  Although the staff has opinions about the matters to be discussed, they understand their role is to facilitate those elected by the organization in their leadership.  There is power in serving others.  There is also power in a focused meeting.  I am excited to see how the preparation by the staff will lead to a quality BOD meeting.
 
What I take from the meeting I witnessed was that if you are not prepared to meet, meetings really can be a waste of time.  However, when you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a staff of professionals, meetings do serve a purpose.  Meetings can ensure a united front.  They are a time to express disagreements and debate in order to resolve conflicts allowing the organization to move forward with common vision.  When I lead meetings in the future, it is my duty to set the agenda and provide background for the meeting.  Everyone else has the duty to review those pieces of information before the meeting.  I look forward to setting up more productive meetings in the future with the goal of driving change.  If there is not a reason to meet, I will not call a meeting!
 
J. Michael Brown, Ph.D.
Pharm.D. Candidate
University of Charleston School of Pharmacy
Class of 2014

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