Meeting versus workshop

I just read an article about collaboration overload and it got me thinking.

  1. there is a huge misunderstanding about the difference between a meeting and a workshop
  2. there is a huge misunderstanding about what collaboration means!

so here’s my 2 cents:


  • are NOT Collaborative
  • information is transmitted/shared
  • decisions are made (sometimes/hopefully)
  • no work gets “done”
  • we talk about the work we are going to do
  • if we talk about it correctly the work is assigned and owner and a due day
  • then later we check if it has been done in another meeting
  • tend to be directed by the meeting owner/organiser
  • hopefully follows the agenda
  • can get sidetracked
  • good for planning work to get done


  • ARE Collaborative
  • have clearly stated goals and outcomes
  • information is used and transformed into outcomes
  • decisions are made constantly
  • work is done in the session
  • we work until the outcomes are achieved
  • if unable to complete the outcomes due to circumstances – abandon the workshop

Collaboration is the most difficult skill of all

Collaboration requires that you hear/learn some information, take it on board, let it bounce around your head, let it bang into and change something you thought, learn something from it, create a new idea based on it, share that new idea to the group, and the you repeat the cycle.

Collaboration occurs when the group is in the mindset of creating new shared knowledge, not absorbing one individual’s knowledge.

Collaboration means that everyone considers what they are hearing from each other, thinks about “what it means to me” and then shares their learnings back to the group.

Collaboration is a team sport, that you iterate through to grow shared and common understanding of a situation or thing.

Collaboration requires trust, listening skills, creative conflict, and the desire to achieve the shared goal or outcome.

it’s not possible to collaborate constantly

There is nothing wrong with having a meeting, there is nothing wrong with running a workshop, but there is something wrong when we expect people to constantly collaborate. Its not possible! Collaboration takes time, energy and desire. We cannot run in a constant collaborative state.

So when you are talking about “meeting overload” ask: are they meetings or workshops. Ask: am I expected to collaborate or just listen or share? Ask: are there defined outcomes that we need to achieve in the session?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: