Seth wrote recently about ceding one’s responsibility via other people’s agendas. He said ‘Setting an agenda is often as important as checking the boxes,’ and I completely agree.
Setting an agenda for a meeting gives you the initial power. Obviously, it allows you to frame the context of the discussions. You might not win every position but you certainly get to discuss them if you’ve put them on the agenda.
Also, if a structured agenda’s gone out beforehand and no one had any amendments prior to sitting down, then you’d be in your rights to say, ‘Sorry, I don’t believe that’s on the agenda. We can schedule it in for next time, though,’ if something new comes up. This can be a great tactic to avoid a tricky area or just simply to keep the stupid stuff off the table.
Definitely avoid the ‘any other business’ pitfall, too. It’s the catchall that lets any number of elephants into the room.