A few people, usually staff, find the fifth model to be highly time-consuming; however, this model is minimally time-consuming for most members of the group. Before the group is assembled, several members (or staff to the meeting) serve as reporters. They interview each member, review pertinent documents, and observe relevant events, then distill this information in a report that is presented to the group orally or in written form before or at the start of the meeting. Members of the group can then ask for greater clarification or expansion of an idea from either the reporter or (preferably) the original source of the information.
This model of information-exchange is typically found in an in-house newsletter or other printed circular that keeps the general population or management of an organization informed about what is going on.. Unfortunately, most of these publications are primarily intended for public relations purposes, are rarely restricted to important information, and usually are not accompanied by a meeting where this information can be further clarified and discussed.
Increasingly, we are likely to find this sort of specialized information-exchange and reportage role being assumed by one or more staff members in an organization. If this type of homework is done before the meeting begins, then many of the other models described above become even more efficient and effective. We are already finding that digital technologies, notably the computer, are very helpful in this regard. Any machine or process that aids the difficult and essential task of communication will be of significant value to contemporary organizations.
Communication and Appreciation
I return to a fundamental question regarding this first group functioin: why are meetings used for the sharing of information? More effective and efficient procedures and technological tools are available for disseminating information to multiple destinations. Before calling an information-sharing meeting, shouldn’t we consider the reason why a group is needed to convey this information? Does the meeting provide a forum for exchanging ideas? Does it stimulate minds? Is this an efficient means for presenting information? Is this a support and appreciative setting in which to generate and make use of information in order to hammer out decisions, arrive at consensus, and reach agreements?
Before initiating an informational meeting, it is important to acknowledge that most of these four functions can be served without the potential participants gathering together in the same room. Routing schedules are the simplest form of information transfer. Instead of meeting to pass out information, send the information by e-mail to relevant people. Reply comments can come back in the same way. This method serves three of the four functions: exchanging ideas, providing and receiving stimulating ideas, and presenting information. Only the fourth function, hammering out decisions, consensus, and agreements, may require a face-to-face meeting.