Getting red carded

I recently led a set of multi-day meetings to review research conducted about our organization’s effectiveness.

An idea that I came up with was to give each meeting participant a red card. The rules were that a red card could be played at any time any participant thought the conversation was getting off topic.

When a red card was played, discussion would halt and there would be friendly debate about whether we were off topic or not. Nine times out of ten, it was agreed we had drifted off topic.

It was helpful to have the peer pressure of the group and a clear mechanism for helping everyone stay on the straight and narrow. Participants enjoyed the ability to help shape the meeting when things began to drift.

Have you employed any creative mechanisms to keep meetings on topic?


2 thoughts on “Getting red carded

  1. I like the card idea – makes it a bit more fun.

    For us: Anyone is free to loudly say “bog” when things are bogging (we’re over-analyzing or off topic or beating a dead horse). Or say “A-B” if 2 people are just talking to each other (and should be discussing outside of staff meeting).

    We also read thru a list of our staff norms every year so that everyone is on the same page.
    A few of them:
    – Punctuality
    – No A-B conversations
    – No cutting people off
    – No clamming up
    – No dozing off – choose to be engaged
    – No doing other stuff during meetings (internet, texting, typing, etc)


  2. Tim, thanks for sharing.

    I especially like the “A-B”. That’s good. It could also be useful in a conference call situation where there is also a chat window. Typing A-B into the chat could signal the parties should meet after the call.


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