118 – Making the Meeting Meaningful
Purpose/Objectives: This exercise demonstrates how a supervisor or manager
can “open up” a problem-solving session by promoting
an atmosphere of open thinking, sharing ideas, and an
in-depth analysis of those ideas. A task force consisting
of five to seven participants is assigned to select what
day to use for a ninth floating holiday in their company.
A leader is chosen, and the emphasis of the exercise is
on how well he/she carried out this assignment. The
leader and the remaining class participants receive
guidelines on how to conduct the meeting. If the leader
fails to follow the guidelines, the observers note the
action. Changing leaders several times throughout the
meeting gives others a chance to try out their skills.
Leaders can learn when their meeting does not “stay on
track,” and the rest of the participants can compare
different styles of leadership.
Time Required: 70 to 90 minutes
Group Size: Unlimited but works best with groups of 15 or fewer
Use this Session Builder as:
• A reinforcement exercise to build on key points in
• An introductory exercise to stimulate thinking and
lead to discussion.
• Make copies of the guidelines for each participant.
• Provide pencils and plain paper for task force members.
• Have a whiteboard or flipchart and markers available to use during the exercise
• Arrange for a table and five to seven chairs for task force members. The
arrangement should be flexible to allow easy viewing of the task force and
• Tell the group you’re going to give them a problem-solving exercise. Read or
paraphrase the following:
The XYZ Company has assigned five (or the number in your task force) of its
employees to form a task force to review the company holidays. There are now
eight existing holidays that are recognized by the company. They are New
Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day,
Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
The company president has decided to offer a ninth floating holiday that can
occur anytime within the calendar year, January through December. Your
assignment is to select which day to consider for the floating holiday, support
your choice with rationale for the selection, and report your decision back to
the president within the next 10 working days.
• Explain that it is up to the task force to meet and reach alternative solutions to
the problem. Point out that in the exercise, the emphasis will be on the leader
and how effectively he/she accomplishes this task.
• Ask for five to seven volunteers to serve on this task force. Make your own
personal selection if you do not receive enough volunteers.
• Tell the task force to choose a leader. If they cannot agree, encourage one
member to act as the leader.
• Explain that the leader will not remain in that role throughout the entire
meeting. The leader may step down at any time, and periodically a new leader
will be selected from the observers. This allows someone experiencing difficulty
to get out of the “hot spot” and gives others a chance to experience leading the