Colleen Abbott, the ex CEO of the Aurora Public Library from 1987-2008, posed a question at the last ACM to all Mayoral candidates asking what they would do if elected to shorten the length of meetings which have seen this term pass the hour of adjournment (10:30PM) and go into the wee hours of the morning.
The question is an extremely appropriate one to ask of those seeking to lead the town, because it has to deal with productivity, conflict resolution and staying on target.
The responses by the candidates are a good reflection of what they represent, I will include them here in the order that they answered:
Agreed that much could be done to reduce meeting times, that he would ensure that issues are not re-hashed over and over.
Expanded on this idea of no repetition, and emphasized that he would observe the rules of order and allow discussion times of 2 x 5 minutes for each member of council on one item.
The only member to object to the question outright. She even said "I can't win".
She pointed out that the discussion times outlined are actually 30 minutes, not 5 minutes as Nigel had claimed. She added that the majority of time wasted at meetings was because members were not prepared.
She was quite happy with the stance "it takes what it takes", time limits and productivity be dammed.
Also sided, somewhat that council should allocate the time required for a full discussion, but offered a suggestion to fracture meetings so that they are held at different intervals not requiring so much business to be included into a single meeting.
Saw the lack of productivity and efficiency to be "cruel and inhumane punishment" on staff members, audience members and council members. He stated he was committed to running shorter meetings while still looking after the town's business.
Chris Brogan has an excellent piece regarding "How NOT To Have Mind Numbing Office Meetings"
Merlin Mann gave a characteristically smart and entertaining talk recently at Twitter HQ discussing meetings, why they're broken, and how you might go about fixing them at your workplace:http://www.43folders.com/2010/10/06/broken-meetings
I hope all the candidates watch his presentation which is online here:
In it Mr Mann goes on to say that every meeting needs a good parent—which is to say, someone who's going to steer and control the meeting responsibly.
And that is what we need on Aurora council.
Steering meetings is a leadership skill, and one that would be severely lacking should Mayor Morris be granted a second term of office.