Here are the winning entries from a bad meeting contest and comments on what to do so that you can avoid these problems.> Short, Expensive, and Useless.First, she sent a letter to a prospective client in New York, proposing a meeting. Then she phoned to confirm the meeting. Although she never spoke with this prospect, his assistant seemed to agree to the meeting. So, she and her boss flew from Illinois to New York. When they arrived, they learned that the man whom they expected to meet had been transferred to another office. His replacement agreed to meet with them for a few minutes. He was polite, unprepared to discuss their offer, and not interested. It was an expensive, short, and useless meeting.Comment: The sender of this story admitted that this was a valuable learning experience. The lesson: always confirm essential elements of a meeting with the key participants. In this case she should have spoken with the VP and confirmed interest in holding a meeting. Just sending a letter and talking to an assistant proved to be insufficient.We can never ask too many questions. In my business, I will even call the hotel to confirm that my client has reserved a meeting room.> Open Hostility.People were gathering for a seminar on "congeniality in the work place" when two men began arguing in the back of the room. Soon they were shouting at each other. The seminar leader walked to the front of the room and asked everyone for their attention so the seminar could start. But the agreement seemed to increase in intensity. When the seminar leader politely asked the two men to join the seminar, one of them shouted back "chill out man!"The leader repeated his request for cooperation. And the men responded by complaining about the way the leader had requested their attention. Some of the other participants spoke up in favor of the seminar leader, which soon led to pushing and shoving. At this point, someone called security. Eventually, the two men were led out of the room, in handcuffs, by police.The seminar leader then continued the program using the argument as an example of how to deal with disruptions. (Remember, this seminar was on congeniality at work.)Comments: If an argument (or any other disturbance) is happening before a meeting, you must put it to rest before stating. If you think you can influence the people who are causing the disturbance, go to them. Acknowledge that they are having a disagreement by saying "you seem to be having a argument" or "you seem to be mad about something." They will most likely agree with you. Then ask if they can put their disagreement aside so that you can start the meeting. Or ask them to move to another place. If they continue to be abusive, I recommend that you excuse yourself by saying, "okay, excuse me," or "excuse me, I'm going to let you be" and then call for help.If confronting hostility seems like more than you want to take on, call for help. It is better to let professionals deal with such situations.Remember that your goal is to end the disturbance without becoming involved in it. Always avoid physical contact with hostile people.> Follow Me, I'm Lost.This reader arrived early for the meeting, which is a good thing to do. But the chairperson arrived five minutes late with two other attendees. Then the three of them spent the next ten minutes talking about local sports. Finally, the chair announces that "we may as well start" and asks "does anyone know why I called this meeting?" One attendee proposed a topic. Another proposed another topic. Someone else suggested that the second issue had been resolved. Then they spent the next 45 minutes arguing over the relevance of these (and other) topics. No one took notes. Nothing was accomplished. At the end of the hour, the chair adjourned the meeting by saying, "okay, let's continue this next week."Comment: No one would go on a trip without a destination. But people hold meetings without a goal. And the cost is huge.Suggestion: Always prepare an agenda. If you don't have time to prepare an agenda, you don't have time to hold the meeting.
In a company of 25 people; putting on a marketing event and charging an entry fee could give the event administrator a severe headache. Patricia Thomson was in this position only last week. Her normal job of Marketing Assistant still had to run while she organized the seminars and she realized she could be handling hundreds of enquiries over the period. This was their first venture into this type of event and the company's accounts department was not really set up for a mass influx of small payments.The registration and payment procedure that you use should be as professional as you can make it. This fairly small part of the overall event paints a very vivid picture to your delegates of your capability and will be their first evidence of how the whole event experience is likely to be. If you handle this phase flawlessly, you may be excused small hiccups along the way. Make a mess of things here and your delegates will start marking your report card with red ink.The registration procedureTake some time with your administrative staff to draw up a detailed process that should be followed consistently by anyone who takes a booking. Please don't just hand them a procedure that you have designed because you will end up shouldering the responsibility for any mistakes that are made down the line. If the process is co-owned by everyone involved, they will feel more motivated to change the process to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.A typical procedure will consider all of the following: How will bookings be taken? By mail By phone By Email Online What type of database will the administrators use? Spreadsheet Paper based system Relational database If an online booking system is to be used, will it be in-house or outsourced to an organization like mybookingmanager.com? If an outsourced "online booking" system is used how will you synchronize the data and how frequently will you do this? Will payments be accepted using bank transfer, credit card, business and/or personal check? How frequently will the event managers and the event caterers require updates on booking statistics and delegate details?Patricia took one look at the checklist and started researching online booking agents immediately. She reasoned that the workload necessary to do a first class job would probably entail bringing in a temp and training him/her to do the job that the online booking agent could handle easily. The cost of having a temp in their already cramped office and the thought of designing a system, training them to use it and finding work for them to do when the phone wasn't ringing was already giving her that headache. She also decided that the cach of being able to offer round-the-clock facilities for credit card booking and also a 24 hour telephone answering service would impress their intended delegates.This week the bookings are rolling in.
The Isuzu brand is one of the least known of the Japanese car brands sold in the North American market. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Subaru are all well recognized and respected Japanese makes while Isuzu lives perpetually in their shadow and underneath the wings of world auto giant, General Motors. Lets take a look at Isuzu and what makes this car company tick.In 1981, Isuzu followed competing Japanese automakers and entered the US, the worlds largest automobile market in terms of annual sales. Getting a late start, Isuzu had some catching up to do as each of its Japanese rivals had already established themselves in the lucrative American market. Indeed, it has always been perceived by automobile experts that if an automaker was going to be successful in the world, then they needed to establish a foothold in the highly competitive U.S. market.Earlier models from Isuzu included the I-Mark, a compact four door sedan; the Stylus, which replaced the I-Mark; the Trooper, a compact SUV; the Impulse, a sporty two door coupe; and the Pup, a compact pick up truck. Unfortunately for Isuzu, bad publicity and a small marketing network have limited the brand in its quest to grow. A report completed by industry watchdog, Consumer Reports, alleged that 1995 and 1996 model year Troopers, have too great a tendency to roll over in certain situations." Consumer Reports also gave the vehicle a rare not acceptable rating, something very few vehicles have ever received by the group over the years. In a previous negative report during the 1980s for the Suzuki Samurai, sales of the Samurai plunged. Indeed, Suzuki is another Japanese make with limited appeal. Could Consumer Reports findings adversely effected both companies? Some experts believe this to be true, judging by their respectively small market shares.Eventually, many of the original models in the Isuzu line up were replaced to give the automaker a better footing in the U.S. During the early 1990s, Isuzu decided to stop importing cars, concentrating solely on pick up trucks and SUVS. An overhauled Trooper joined the Amigo and Rodeo in the Isuzu line up followed a number of years later by the VehiCross.Isuzus thrust into the U.S has all but stopped and, for now, they do not import a single vehicle into the U.S., relying instead on their relationship with GM, who owns 12% of the company, to sell rebadged GM vehicles as Isuzus. At last count, Isuzus sales were averaging about 1,000 vehicles per month, certainly not a sustainable figure for any car producer.So, what keeps Isuzu going? A few things: diesel engines and GM. As a world class manufacturer of diesel engines, Isuzu provides engines for you guessed it GM trucks. Filling a glaring void in the GM line up, Isuzu has turned from an automotive importer to an automotive supplier; at least as far as the North American market is concerned. GM, in turn, has invested heavily in Isuzu and together they have joint ventures around the globe including a shared stake in an Australian operation.The long term strategy for Isuzu is unclear, but it does appear that the North American market is unsustainable at least as far as the passenger car market goes. The company does have a line of commercial vehicles that are sold in the US which are favored by companies needing an economical, but compact commercial truck in their fleet. Couple that with their relationship with GM, Isuzus future may well lay in the areas of engine supplier and commercial vehicle provider, two niches that have been successful so far for the Japanese company.
INTRODUCTION Corporations have over the years, deployed a diverse mix of software and hardware applications to gain competitive advantage. Rapid advancements in IT, combined with evolving business needs, have resulted in contrasting IT environments across enterprises.At one end of the spectrum are open architecture applications that leverage on the potential of the of Internet, while the other end comprises traditional, close-ended, legacy software. corporate data still resides on legacy Some market research estimates indicate that more than 70% of systems. Hence the successful management and re-deployment of legacy systems to meet tomorrows business needs is the major challenge today. This white paper will help organizations understand the issues involved in effective management of existing "legacy system" s. LEGACY APPLICATIONS DEFINITION A legacy system typically consists of large applications that access voluminous data stored in legacy database management systems running on mainframes or mid-range platforms. These systems made economic sense when they were developed. The functionality of these systems was unquestionable at the time of installation. However, as technology and business needs evolved they have become complex and uneconomical to maintain.As the enterprise has invested a considerable amount of time and money in these systems, these investments cannot simply be written off. PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH LEGACY APPLICATIONS In their current state, most legacy applications have several challenges associated with their functioning and maintenance. A few of the typical challenges are enumerated below: . Legacy systems are built for internal, enterprise-wide usage, while todays business demands that they be exposed to new, external entities. The focus was almost always on internal business logic. . These applications are inflexible. They are not modular thus segregation of presentation, business and database logic consumes critical resources. . The lack of documentation and skilled manpower make any modification an ad-hoc process and not a holistic one. This can lead to crashes and breakdowns in unpredictable parts of the system. Efforts to address these challenges have been piecemeal, and have had limited impact. The combination of new systems and retrofitted older ones have ompounded the problem. Adoption of new technology and languages has often been only for technologys sake. Finally, the need to deliver application functionality via new channels like mobile devices, with differing transaction approaches add to the problems of successful legacy modernization. BENEFITS OF LEGACY APPLICATIONS Organizations continue to use "legacy application" s on account of various reasons. Some of the benefits perceived by organizations are: . Legacy systems were developed for, and still run, mission-critical applications. . A large number of users utilize the system. They are very familiar with the functionalities of the applications, including look and feel. They have also gained a complete understanding of the strengths and limitations of the system. . The underlying hardware and software of such legacy systems is time-tested and very reliable. The applications themselves have evolved over a few decades and behave very predictably. These factors contribute to the continued usage of legacy systems. However, effective modernization of these legacy systems will ensure that these benefits can be amplified at minimal expense. CHANGING BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS AND LEGACY APPLICATIONS Economic and political conditions over the last few years have resulted in several emerging challenges for technology organizations. . Time to market is going down. Organizations are moving from 18-month project cycles to 6month project cycles. . New products and services are being introduced in rapid succession. . With globalization and deregulation, the need for flexible systems that can synchronize with rapid business shifts has become crucial. . Organizations are mapping cost controls to appropriate service expectations. Such dynamic considerations have made it imperative for organizations to assess the financial viability of their IT portfolio, so that they can leverage the advantages of new-age languages and optimize returns on investment on existing applications as well. Business leaders must consider following strategic issues when evolving beyond legacy systems: Total Cost of Ownership -Typically, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of keeping a legacy system running can be very high as compared to the cost of running a more up-to-date system. The TCO of a system includes components like operations (hardware, system software), production support, and application maintenance. The lines of code, quality of documentation, and the way the application is structured directly influences costs of the system. Industry experience suggests that maintenance costs drop by as much as a factor of 3 after a legacy system is transformed. This is indeed possible if the newer system is better structured, better documented and has optimized code. Productivity -A legacy extension advantages typically owes its stability, scalability and reliability to the underlying mainframe platforms on which it is deployed. Any approach to modernizing the "legacy extension advantages" should recognize this and develop a solution accordingly. Modernizing legacy does not imply migrating away from the mainframe platform in its current manifestation, but optimizing the existing system for enhanced performance. Flexibility -The technologies used in a legacy application often do not integrate well with newer technology application components that have been subsequently developed. But the main flexibility loss arises from the fact that the applications are monolithic -- unlike the more recent multi-tiered architectures where the presentation and business logic are separated. Multi-tiered architectures allow for greater flexibility and changes can be effected quickly.Architectural rigidity is one of the primary reasons that several organizations prefer to re-architect the legacy application, even while retaining the underlying platform and language.A transformed application makes for a multi-tiered, adaptable system, allowing easy integration of newer technology. Knowledge Availability -Programmers adept at COBOL, PL/1, Assembler and several other legacy languages are a vanishing tribe. These programming languages are no longer taught in computer science courses at schools and training institutes hence, without considerable re-training, it is difficult to create these skills in-house. The same problem holds true for database technologies used. In the past, hierarchical and network databases were very commonly used, whereas recent applications work with relational databases.Last but not least, documentation in respect of the applications functionalities is almost always inadequate, and only a few people possess complete knowledge of what the application does. Extinct Vendors -In many reported cases, the company that originally developed the application is no longer in business. That leaves their customers in a very precarious position because most often the language used to develop the system is already obsolete and no longer supported. Additionally, the system has usually been heavily customized, and there is no proper documentation maintained. This is also the main bottleneck to implementing enhancement and changes to the application. Hence, whenever such a system has to be taken over for maintenance, it requires a high learning curve. This period can vary from 2 months to 6 months depending on the complexity of the system. Only after getting familiar with the system can a third-party be able to carry out an effective maintenance job. Alignment with Business Goals -Some CIOs certainly do wonder whether it is worthwhile to spend on maintaining and upgrading a legacy extension advantages. In reality, such outlay can produce a healthy return on investment should not be considered as mere running costs.There are three distinct types of maintenance costs: preventive (e.g. Y2K, Euro), adaptive and breakdown. Preventive and breakdown maintenance expenses are necessary to keep the system running, so the costs allocated to these can be said to be running costs. Adaptive maintenance commonly refers to enhancements or upgrading. This maintenance, though piecemeal, does improve the functionality, accessibility, and provides good business value. Unfortunately, most enhancement requests take a back seat as most budget allocations being consumed by preventive and breakdown maintenance. Improved returns on investment can be obtained only by undertaking a sizable upgrade, and that too when the business needs it the most. Proper planning and Return On Investment (ROI) analysis should be done for legacy upgrade to know whether value accrues from increased returns or reduced TCO (maintenance, infrastructure and operational costs). ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS Organizations moving away from legacy extension advantagess must adopt a financial viable solution that meets strategic business needs. There are various options available to the CIO when metamorphosing from legacy extension advantagess to more contemporary platforms. Functional Extension -Functional Extension is useful when the legacy application possesses adequate business logic, but needs additional functionality. Functional Extension refers to closing the functional gaps in the legacy application by reengineering the existing application or by integrating it with other application. Technical Extension -Technical extension is useful when existing legacy applications have high operational costs and there is a strong need to share the business capabilities with partners/suppliers. One of the key drivers for technical extension is a need to web enable the legacy application. Technical extension covers activities like: . Code cleansing / optimizing . Componentization . Development of wrappers . Legacy Integration In both the functional and technical extension, the processes and business rules are preserved while critical components of the application are converted and adapted. Migration -Migration becomes an important modernization option when the legacy application has adequate business rules, but requires higher scalability and interoperability.This option is also useful, when it is difficult to separate logic from persistent data and presentation layers. . Selection of targeted programming language/platform/database . Code migration . Database migration . Deployment migration Replacement -Replacing the existing legacy extension with a generic off-the-shelf product or rewriting it under a new programming environment is another option. Replacement would accrue benefits similar to re-engineering and is vulnerable to similar disadvantages. There is also the danger of overlooking important business rules that constitute the heart of the "legacy extension" . SELECTING SUITABLE SOLUTION The selection of any of these four options would be based on an extensive analysis of the application portfolio around various application parameters, some of which include: . Functional suitability . Availability of various features . Scalability . Interoperability . Maintainability . Reliability . Availability of standard solutions (OTS Products) . Ease of use . Level of documentation available . Accessibility . Support available from platform/technology vendor . Applicability of Enterprise Architecture policies and standards Portfolio analysis around these parameters will help analyze the applications based on functional gaps and technical gaps within the applications. Once the portfolio analysis has identified the functional and technical gaps, each application can be placed in one of the 9 blocks, shown in the following analysis grid. This will help in identifying a suitable modernization strategy for the application. Portfolio analysis is the most critical aspect of the overall enterprise application modernization exercise and hence there should be a tool-based approach that would remove, to a great degree, subjectivity introduced by a pure manual approach. LEGACY EXTENSION (FUNCTIONAL AND TECHNICAL) WHAT IS LEGACY EXTENSION? Legacy Extension bridges the gap between legacy and strategic architectures. It augments noninvasive integration and other project options. Legacy extension is cost-effective, time-efficient and risk adverse. The extension process consists of understanding and documenting the existing system; decomposing the application into data, presentation and processing logic; creating and extracting reusable components; and if desired, converting the legacy code into Web compatible languages. ADVANTAGES OF LEGACY EXTENSION Extending a legacy extension advantages offers organizations a number of distinct advantages including: 1. Up to 40% reduction in maintenance costs, with enhanced understanding of the functionality of your applications. Optimized cost of ownership of transformed system and reduced overall costs (inclusive of new resources, training and maintenance). 2. Leveraging current business processes and modern technology. 3. Improved access to the system through re-deployment and re-orientation of existing hardware and software resources. Anytime, anywhere, secured access to users and customers. Easy access to users over the Internet since no additional hardware or software is required to access the application. User-friendly interface that requires minimal training / re-training. 4. Shifts dependence of maintenance activities from few individuals to transparent processes and tools. Ease of maintenance from a Programming / Maintenance group perspective. 5. Comprehensive documentation of system with complete knowledge of processes. 6. Ease in deployment and enhancement of functionality. METHODS OF LEGACY EXTENSION Legacy systems typically consist of billions of lines of code in myriad traditional languages. The extension process involves scanning code, extracting business logic, removing dead code and arranging modules into logical components. Skilled programmers can execute these activities manually. However due to various time, cost and risk implications of manual intervention, tool-based extension is a faster, easier and more cost-effective option. TOOL-BASED APPROACH TO EXTENSION The demand for rapid application development, along with significant advances in software development automation, has resulted in the creation of tools that automate and aid in the process of legacy extension. In legacy extension advantagess, a single program performs multiple functions, or multiple programs may perform a given function. Understanding all operations executed by a function is a difficult task in terms of magnitude, effort and complexity. Several programs may have to be analyzed to completely understand a single function. This method is time consuming and prone to error. ADVANTAGES OF USING A TOOL Tool-based extensions can prove to be advantageous in: 1. Extraction of business logic - A tool can extract the business logic related to the functionality, from all the programs and make the entire functionality available in the form of a business rule repository. With the automation of functional analysis, the developer can spend more time in optimization and componentization of the code. 2. Extraction at system and functional levels - A tool can extract business logic at a system level as well as functional level. Deploying a tool ensures that the complete business knowledge is extracted from the system, while providing an accurate picture of the application(s) functionality. 3. Pictorial depiction of system flow - A tool can also provide a pictorial representation of the system flow, and highlight various modules in the program. This offers the developer a better understanding of the system. Tools can also be used for data migration efforts, whereby it is possible to model data for the target system. This is very useful in cases like VSAM to RDBMS conversion. Typically, a tool-based approach to legacy extension involves the following steps:Baselining the Inventory -1. Tool captures a module-wise inventory. 2. Missing routines, programs etc are reported. For example, program A invokes another program B, and program B does not figure in the program inventory. Program B can then be imported into the tool inventory. 3. The cycle goes on till the inventory is complete. 4. Redundant programs, i.e. the programs that are not referenced by any other programs are identified and ignored. Planning and Scheduling -1. Imported programs are analyzed for their complexity. Different tools use different algorithms for determining the complexity. 2. The complexity analysis helps in effort estimation for extension of the programs and further planning & scheduling of necessary activities. Generating the Process Flow -1. The tool generates a process flow for a transaction. 2. It highlights the cross-reference and interdependence between programs, batch jobs, modules, etc. 3. The visual representation provides a better understanding of the system at macro and micro levels. Data Modeling -1. The tool generates an as is data model of the current system. 2. This model can be further normalized and optimized to suit the clients requirements. 3. This data model can be exported for direct utilization by standard tools such as Rational Rose, ERWIN, etc, to create the target database. 4. The model can also be used to create a DDL for the target database. This feature adds more value when transforming from VSAM datasets to RDBMS.5. Dependencies and relationships between the various entities can be modeled using graphical interfaces. 6. In most cases, the back-end can remain unchanged. Knowledge Mining and Extension -1. Complex rules are split into independent atomic rules. The extracted rules are reviewed and validated against the code and the current functionality. Redundant code is weeded out. 2. Use Cases are designed and appropriate business rules are associated with them, thereby building up the components that get translated into software in the target language. A component can consist of more than one function. The design of the components is dependent on the target architecture and infrastructure.Deployment -1. The re-architected application is exposed to internal users for testing its functionality. 2. The software generated is implemented on the target platform. PATNI APPROACH VALUE-ADDED MAINTENANCE Patni believes that the best way to service a customers need is to imbibe the processes prevalent at the clients site and blend them with Patni s development tools, processes and methodologies. This approach enables Patni to provide the best-fit service processes that add value to the clients IT operations. Patni has a Center of Excellence for Legacy Modernization. The focus of this group is to: 1. Provide in-house consulting and set benchmarks for a range of Legacy technologies. 2. Identify value-add tools, processes and methodologies, and facilitate their usage at client sites.3. Provide proof of concept and formulate solutions in e-Business, Legacy modernization and Application Management. 4. Provide cost-effective solution transfer services to Delivery Units, using a judicious mix of onsite-and offshore-based highly skilled IT professionals. The Legacy Modernization Center of Excellence possesses expertise in executing projects on a variety of legacy platforms such as IBM mainframe and AS/400, Vax/VMS, HP 3000/MPE. NON-INVASIVE Patni believes that any extension of legacy extension advantagess should be as non-invasive as possible. As described earlier, Re-facing, Re-engineering and Replacement are the three strategies of migrating from legacy to newer platforms. These range from the cosmetic to the highly invasive methods used by vendors of specific tools and technologies. SCOPE CUSTOMIZATIONBased on our extensive consultancy experience, Patni scopes out a cost-benefit classification. On the basis of their study, our analysts categorize applications into one of the four categories: Upgrade / Replaced -Application that do deliver strategically significant functionality, but have a high cost of retention, have to be retained. However, they are candidates for cost reduction through technology upgrades or through exploitation of other systems. If exploitation of Quadrant 4 (Export) systems makes it possible to replace these systems, these applications will effectively move into Quadrant 1 ( Retire) Retired -Applications that do not deliver any strategically significant functionality, but have a high cost of retention, are poor value for money. system that have been semiretired, or are used for historical data reference only, would be included in this category. Retain -Applications that do not deliver any strategically significant functionality, but have a correspondingly low cost of retention, are best retained on an "as is" basis. There's not much to be gained from retiring them, as they have a low cost of retention -- nor is there much to be gained from any further investment of time or effort. If exploitation of Quadrant 4 (Exploit) system makes it possible to replace these systems, these applications will effectively move into Quadrant 1 (retire). Maximize Utilization -Applications thet do deliver strategically significant functionality, and also have a low cost retention, appearto offer good "Valu for money " and should be utilised as extensively as possible. Exploitation could result in making other (Quadrant 2 upgrade/ replace) and Quadrant 3 (Retain) systems redundant, thus effectively moving them to Quadrant 1 (Retire). High Low Strategic value High LEGACY APPLICATION EXTENSION PROCESS Steps: 1. Legacy Understanding: Documenting existing system.2. System Decomposition: Application is broken into data, presentation and processing logic.3. Componentization: Create and extract reusable components. 4. Extension: Convert legacy code into Web compatible languages. Any legacy extension will require the right tools and the right approach. Patni has strategic alliances with some of the leading legacy modernization and Web-enabling tool providers in the industry. Rich experience, customer-orientation, state-of-the-art development tools, processes and methodologies enable Patni to provide the "best-fit service processes" that add value to the client's IT operations. CONCLUSION 1. More than 70% of corporate data still resides on legacy extension advantagess. 2. Large corporations have invested considerable resources on these systems. This investment cannot be written off. 3. Legacy systems were developed for, and still run mission-critical applications.4. In their current state, most legacy extensions have several challenges associated with their functioning and maintenance. 5. When evolving beyond "Data Modeling" s, business leaders must consider strategic issues such as: . Total Cost of Ownership . Productivity . Flexibility . Knowledge Availability . Extinct Vendors . Alignment with Business Goals 6. Various options are available to the CIO when migrating from Legacy systems to more contemporary platforms: . Functional Extension . Technical Extension . Migration . Replacement 7. Any extension of Data Modelings should be "non-invasive. 8. The extension process consists of understanding and documenting the existing system; decomposing the application into data, presentation and processing logic; creating and extracting reusable components; and if desired, converting the legacy code into Web compatible languages.
If you have sat through a few bad meetings, you must have experienced the following traps. Here they are and how to fix them.1) People think they are experts.Many people tell me that they know how to hold a meeting. Actually, all they do is host a party. They invite guests, provide treats, and preside over a conversation. People talk. People eat. And nothing happens. Or, if they somehow manage to reach an agreement, no one implements it.> What to do: Learn how to lead a real meeting. Schedule a workshop or buy a book. When results really matter, hire a facilitator. Recognize that there are modern tools that help people make methodical progress toward results. These tools are practical and easy to use. Of course, you have to know what they are in order to use them. Call me (714-528-1300) for details.2) People think they are inspiring.Many people believe that long-winded announcements impress others. Actually, it's the opposite. A long lecture quickly becomes a boring (and sometimes offensive) harangue. Why? Most employees want an active role in contributing to the business, and thus listening to a speech feels like a waste of time.> What to do: Design meetings that give the attendees opportunities to contribute. Plan questions that direct thinking toward the results that you want. Use activities that help people make decisions. Distribute announcements in letters, memos, or E-mails. Or, if you must use a meeting, keep announcements brief (less than a few minutes).3) People think others agree with them.Many people rely on nods, smiles, and eye contact to measure acceptance. Actually, most employees will do anything to appease a boss. And if the boss seems to be upset, the employees will become even more agreeable. Then, once the meeting ends, the employees will do one of three things: 1) forget the lecture, 2) ignore the message, or 3) sabotage the idea.> What to do: Conduct meetings by a process that everyone considers to be fair. Use consensus to reach agreements and make decisions. People will accept decisions that they helped make.4) People think others are clairvoyant.Many people call meetings without an agenda expecting that everyone will arrive sharing their vision for what needs to be done. Actually, everyone brings their private hopes, fears, and vision to the meeting. Without a clear agenda, the result is something between chitchat and chaos, depending upon the complexity of the issue.Note: A vague agenda, such as a list of topics, is almost as useless as no agenda.> What to do: Write out your goal for the meeting. Then prepare an agenda that is so complete someone else could use it to run the meeting without you. Specify each step and provide a time budget. Send the agenda at least a day before the meeting so that the attendees can use it to prepare. Call key participants before the meeting to check if they have questions or want to talk about the agenda.5) People think meetings are necessary.Many people respond to every emergency, surprise, or twitch by calling a meeting. Actually, a meeting is a special (and expensive) process. It should be used only to obtain results that require the efforts of a group of people working as a team. A meeting is NOT a universal cure for everything. Meetings held for the wrong reasons, waste everyone's time.> What to do: Challenge every meeting for its ability to earn a profit for your business. That is, make sure the value of the results is greater than the cost of holding a meeting. If any other activity can accomplish the same result, use that other activity.