One of the nightmares of every chairperson has to be colleagues that squander huge amounts of time on the vaguest item on the meeting’s agenda – ‘any other business’ (AOB). No matter how tightly you manage the meeting, there are no rules for ‘any other business’. Before you know it, you’re embroiled in a discussion that nobody saw coming and for which nobody has prepared. That’s why in this blog we’ve gone back to the basics: what is the item AOB meant for anyway?
Parking or removal
Originally, AOB made it possible to introduce items for discussion that were not on the agenda. This was handy if the agenda was drawn up a long time in advance and new, current issues had to be discussed. And if items for discussion arose during the meeting, it was handy for the chairperson to park them in AOB. Unfortunately, in practice, AOB is often used to breathe new life into discussions that arose during the meeting. Colleagues who want to voice their opinion a second time, get the chance to do so in AOB! And that’s how AOB often becomes a recycling unit for the meeting.
3 tips for dealing with AOB quickly
If you don’t want to kick AOB off the agenda in your organisation, but you would like to deal with it quicker, the following tips may help you:
Tip 1: Time limit
Let the chairperson assign a time limit to the item on the agenda. They know best how many items are parked in AOB during the meeting. If the chairperson thinks that the item should not take longer than five minutes to discuss, you’ll see that all the parked items are quickly dealt with.
Tip 2: Watch out for agenda items in disguise
At every meeting, you have colleagues who introduce an item under AOB that is actually an item on the agenda in disguise. This is where the chair has to intervene; they can ensure that the subject is postponed until the next meeting. If the issue is too urgent for that, the topic can better be discussed separately after the meeting with the colleagues for whom it is really important. This saves the other attendees a lot of time.
Tip 3: Don’t discuss subjects a second time
Sometimes attendees want to return to subjects that have already been discussed during the meeting. They try to re-introduce them through the backdoor – through AOB. Watch out for this sort of attempt, and don’t fall into the trap!
If you would like more tips for effective meetings, download or checklist here.