21st Century Meetings

I am hearing reports that papers for meetings of Clinical Commissioning Groups, which are key bodies within the new structure of the NHS, are routinely running to more than 500 pages. How on earth can anyone be expected to absorb that amount of information and use it to make an informed decision? In my opinion, and that of many others I talk to, it is an impossibility, and smacks of deliberate obfuscation.

It’s the 21st Century, we have the tools to do this properly. So, I suggest that instead of papers, video presentations of the issues containing interviews with those affected by the policy should be the norm. How about something like this?

And these should be backed up by presentations at the meeting done in Bettakultcha style; i.e. 20 slides, 5 minutes. Here’s how to do that

We can do this, can’t we?

5 thoughts on “21st Century Meetings

  1. Whole model of governance needs to be rebuilt. Suggested to an individual in a local council that papers for school governor meetings (especially if it is the full termly meeting) to be sent out electronically and they replied, ‘that can’t be done as the papers have to be printed in different colours’ I asked why and apparently it is so that governors know the information on the papers come from different sources. Most of us can read, you know.
    The Area Action Partnership meetings that I attend, there are always lots of papers floating around, Really starting to irritate me that public bodies are spending money on multi stage prep for meetings and cutting vital services at the same time.

  2. Although videos/slide presentations could be helpful, the prospects of representative videos from each group affected by some of the broad-ranging policies considered by CCGs, LAs and Health & Wellbeing Boards may lead to increased time spent in Board/Committee meetings not less.

    Committees & Boards with a statutory basis need to properly document their decisions but there is plenty of scope for supporting data, reports, summaries being made available electronically and via community hub sites/libraries for local viewing & transparency. Cross-referencing of documents and searchable indexes are always helpful.

    Some consolidation of centrally-driven requirements is important as there are 211 CCGs and 152 local authorities in England all preparing similar types of health and care strategies/policies/plans for their local communities.

    Local citizens need to see the outcomes of the decisions made as well as the policies and plans. This is where video and social media could be used more effectively.

    Health organisations in England could take a lead from NHS England’s Board meetings which are video live-streamed (eg http://bit.ly/LgqYQv) with tighter agendas and some social media coverage from viewers.


  3. Its certainly a good idea John. I’m all for becoming paperless wherever possible. I’ve seen some ridiculously long agenda papers where its impossible to read and digest all the information they contain. Its hard for bureaucracy to give up the safety net of excessive agenda papers but challenge of this norm is needed. I guess the change from paper to video – from written to visual – is a challenge worth making and continuing! (@brettsadler77)

  4. My worry is that anecdote will using video replace data and emotion replace evidence. Look at the public’s perception of issues like benefits which have been set by clever media presentation.
    Having said that I accept that we need to break the mould of career bureaucrats producing ever increasing documents.

  5. John – you might be interested in a small organisation of which I’m a board member. Creating the Future has a ‘board packet’ that includes actual papers, but also a video from the director in place of the normal CEO type report that boards get. This is posted on YouTube so anyone can see it (and the board meetings are entirely digital, using Hangouts, freely available for anyone to join in via twitter, but I guess thats a different issue). See http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org/whatsnew/2013/07/01/creating-the-futures-july-2013-board-meeting/ and you’d be welcome to join a board meeting as a guest if you’d like to talk about these issues?

    re Michael’s point – yes, I guess the trick is not to think about these tools as complete substitutes. They’re an ‘and’, not an either/or.

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