Town hall meetings, where it’s hard it is to get department members to ask genuine questions

In my experience, a town hall meeting finds the general counsel sitting in front of most or all of the law department and answering whatever questions are asked. It hails from the fishbowl (“workout”) technique made famous by General Electrics. A town hall Q&A session is supposed to be open, candid, useful and to allow anyone in the law department to ask any question.

Sounds great in theory, but in real life no one wants to show up the big kahuna with a difficult or sensitive question. Nor to they don’t want to float softball questions and get battered later as a brown nose. So the administrator or someone else has to seed the questions or let people submit them in writing so they can even fake the questions.

Town halls try to address the chronic complaint of lack of communication (See my post of Nov. 30, 2005 on the clamor for more “communication”; and Oct. 19, 2005 on communication methods.) and they try to build morale (See my post of Oct. 29, 2005 on symptoms and underlying causes of departmental morale.). They try to, and look good on paper, but peer pressure conspires against them (See my post of Dec. 8, 2006 on the GC’s chilling effect.).

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