Reading Russell Ackoff‘s excellent book Management F-laws recently I came across the following
“The amount of time a committee wastes is directly propotional to its size.”
Ackoff then goes on to remind us just how ineffective meetings, and particularly large meetings, are at actually getting things done.
He ends with
“Those who convene committee meetings (or any meetings) should be required to pay for the time of those who attend.”
I am a big believer in communication and I prefer, when possible, to do this face to face. But with a few rare exceptions large meetings are a vast waste of people’s time and the companies money. If a broadcast is needed there are usually more effective ways to do this with today’s technology.
The next time you are in a large meeting take a look around. How many people are checking email on their phone or laptop, how many actually look engaged and, if it’s in the late in the afternoon, how many are struggling just to keep their eyes open? These people probably either don’t need to be there or, if they do, don’t need to be there for the whole time.
It’s easy to forget that people are being paid to be bored. But there is something you can do about it – use a meeting clock.
This is a simple app into which you enter the number of people and an average hourly rate and then click start. As the meeting progresses you will see a number counting up showing how much it has cost to run the meeting in real-time.
You don’t have to do this too many times before you start to realize just how much money is being wasted when people could actually be doing something productive. I guarantee that before you know it you will be keeping meetings to a minimum, doing more one on one meetings (where real things happen) and trying to make better use of the collaborative social platforms available.
- Kill the Breakfast Meeting (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sayonara, Siri: the debate on banning smartphones in meetings (mydoorsign.com)