You’re so right - it is a best-case perspective. That’s why it’s part 2 of 6 - because that function absolutely breaks down if it isn’t minded. The rest of the series addresses how to approach meetings so they can achieve this function. I wrote this series for our clients who are trying to improve meetings, but have no training or background. It’s my pitch at the “what would we put in a meetings 101 curriculum”. Just one article to go and it’s done.
I have a theory about what makes a meeting a “meeting” after the symposium, and your chair example fits it perfectly. Short version: meetings are defined by intention. Someone must declare the meeting, it is for a set time and place, and it creates obligation upon others. This is why the primary shared function of meetings worldwide is as an excuse to get off the phone with our mothers. “Sorry, mom! I have to run to a meeting!” This also underlies why people HAVE to say they hate meetings, even though we know they really don’t. If they liked meetings, how could they use them as an excuse?
The intention makes the meeting, and imposes an obligation. We may resist the obligation, which can undermine the meeting. Still working on getting this idea into focus…
I love the concept of “unforeseen relevance”. It feels like a more functional version of serendipity - one that does not require an abandonment of structure or a mystical reliance on fate to be a natural outcome of meeting.