When an organisation asks me to lead a change, the way meetings are run is rarely a topic of discussion. Points of attention are typically the organisational chart, job descriptions of the new positions (especially at higher level) and typology of the new culture. Meetings are usually overlooked. As if they didn’t matter.
But they do matter.
Bad meetings lead to failed change
I’ve read estimates that professionals consider around half of their time in meetings as wasted. My educated and conservative guess is that a typical office clerk spends at least 50% of his of her working time in meetings. This leads to the staggering conclusion that 25% of the time at work goes down the drain. That’s an awful lot.
We put things like customer care, efficiency, flexibility, loyalty, innovation, accountability, respect, society, sustainability, teamwork, enthusiasm, etc, etc at the core of our change, but forget to tackle the huge chunk worth at least 25% that deals with group work.
And it might even be worse: organisations set in motion a change process but implement it via meetings that are no different from the old meetings. No wonder most change processes die prematurely.
Change by changing your meetings!
So why not start your change process by changing your meetings? Instead of discussing the new organisation discuss the new meeting. How would your ideal meeting look like? How many meetings could we possibly avoid altogether? How would an efficient preparation look like? How could meetings have the impact that they promise?
I have no evidence, but my firm conviction is that an organisational change could very well start from something as small as a meeting. Instead of starting with the whole, you start with a relatively small but substantial step.
And it will affect your organisation on a deep level. People attend meetings for various reasons of which a lot of are bad (meetings fill your agenda, they show you’re busy, they provide you with reasons not to do what really needs to be done, they give a playground for power play, etc, etc…). And no one will deny the value of good meetings, so here’s the golden window of opportunity for every change agent.