“Dogs Who Get Off the Leash” Suck

Will people ever stop coming up with tangents to disrupt your meeting? Let's think about that one … hmm, no!

How many times have you sat in a meeting designated for a particular purpose and out of left field flies a comment, concern, or suggestion that occupies a great portion of that meeting going forward? What's worse, the tangent creator (who may well offer a valid point) might feel the need to explain, discuss, and develop a solution right then and there. It could even involve a group of attendees who have little or nothing to do with that issue. Do these tangent creators realize they just want to hear themselves talk, or are they looking for a way to add superficial importance to their value to the organization?

When a dog gets off its leash like this, what happens? As an attendee, you look at your watch, start complaining about time being wasted, and think about the project you need to finish before the end of the day. As a facilitator, you watch as time ticks away, and you witness the rapidly diminishing engagement of your uninvolved attendees.

As the facilitator, please respect the time constraints of the attendees you've invited and make sure you accomplish the objectives set out in your agenda. If the tangential “dog-off-the-leash” idea is critical to your discussion and a stopper for moving forward, break off the meeting for those not involved. Let them get back to what they need to do. Then reconvene in a stated amount of time after ...

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