Many of you will be familiar with the problem. If you don't think there is a problem, then maybe you ARE the problem. Everybody sits somewhere on the 'love-meetings-hate-meetings' spectrum. I personally dislike meetings. Some people justify their existence with meetings, turning a 2 minute face-to-face into an expensive, hour long pow-wow with a dozen slightly confused people.
Why I don't like meetings
- Decision by committee is rarely productive. People have roles and responsibilities for a reason.
- No agenda means no direction, too many tangents and a lot of yawning.
- Granularity. Obsession with working out all of the minutiae in the meeting. A 30 minute meeting become a 3 hour meeting.
- Value for money. Multiply the number of attendees by a ballpark hourly rate by the number of hours spent in the meeting to calculate cost. Would you show the figure to your boss?
- Failure to set action points makes the whole thing worthless.
- Opportunity cost. What could you be doing if you weren't in that meeting?
- Mobile devices. Ban them. If you need to have a meeting, the spirit should be present, not just the body.
Someone once emailed Chuck Norris about a mandatory CMMI meeting. Chuck Norris emailed a blank reply with no subject and one attachment… a roundhouse kick to the face.
- Ask if a meeting is really the answer to the problem? Many problems can be solved by individual face-to-face interactions.
- Refuse to attend meetings with no agenda (emergency CAB meetings and a few others excepted as these have an implied agenda). Commit to using the 'decline' button more.
- The staff or systems which manage room bookings should reject bookings without an accompanying agenda. No agenda = no meeting.
- Use a money clock to easily identify cost and maintain focus.
- Assign actions - clearly.
- Take minutes, distribute and use them.
- Ask if the meeting was worth it.
- Management should run spot checks - examining the agenda, attendee list, minutes, action points, costs and results. 5 minutes every month can keep meetings from regularly spiralling out of control.