A low-meeting diet: some do it!

Today I was flabbergasted. On two different unrelated occasions I asked: ‘how many hours a week do you spend in meetings?’ The first person I asked is project manager at a big public organisation, the second manager at a global consultancy.

 

Both respondents gave the same answer: 5 hours a week.

 

Example of low-meeting diets

A low-meeting dietThe fact that they gave the same answer independently from one another is not really what struck me. What I found really surprising is the fact that they reported just 5 hours of meetings a week (and with a meeting I mean a purposeful gathering of 3 or more persons).

 

My experience is that professionals easily report 20 hours and more. So at first I thought: ‘did I ask another question than I thought I asked?’

 

But no! Here were two professionals that consciously and carefully planned their meetings. They avoided the meetings that were not of interest to them and the meetings they organised themselves were short and focussed. No wonder the level of effectiveness of their meetings was high. The manager reckoned that 80% of all decisions in the meetings he attended were implemented. The project manager (who was less often in the leading seat) reported 60% hit rate.

 

Going on a low-meeting diet

They both made the maths about how much money is involved in inefficient meetings and decided to organise them differently. They decided to change their meetings. Granted, the manager of the global consultancy was helped by the poor economic situation in his sector (giving his initiative a sense of urgency), but the project manager had fought big internal battles to make this happen.

 

It’s great to see how some people take their leadership seriously. And it’s even greater when you meet two of these leaders the same day. It made me feel very happy. But it also triggers the question: what is withholding you to go on a low-meeting diet?

2 Comments

Jeroen Blijsie

This is interesting stuff, Ruben! The larger organizations grow, the more internal communication energy is needed to run the business. That is what it seems…. but what people have to learn is to let go the sense of security by sitting together and discussing everything in every detail. Of course, we live in a democratic world, but is this a good concept for organizations? And what get managers paid for? To make decisions based on information and inspiration they get from their people, and to make sure they are implemented. The less time spent on meetings, the more time is left for implementation. And the more this happens, the more managers will be leaders and the more inspired people and effective organizations get. Isn’t that what we all want?

Reply
Jeroen Blijsie

This is interesting stuff, Ruben! The larger organizations grow, the more internal communication energy is needed to run the business. That is what it seems…. but what people have to learn is to let go the sense of security by sitting together and discussing everything in every detail. Of course, we live in a democratic world, but is this a good concept for organizations? And what get managers paid for? To make decisions based on information and inspiration they get from their people, and to make sure they are implemented. The less time spent on meetings, the more time is left for implementation. And the more this happens, the more managers will be leaders and the more inspired people and effective organizations get. Isn’t that what we all want?

Reply

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