The Mystery of Meetings
Why Are Some Meetings Successful?
We once heard a client say, “The problem here is we have lots of useless meetings.” We asked the group, “What do you mean by lots and what do you mean by useless.” The answers were vague. We therefore set up a one week observation period to track how many meetings they were having. The value of each meeting was then rated on a scale of one to five, with one being useless and five being excellent.
Here is what we learned. First we affirmed the primary law from Total Quality Management, “anything you measure automatically gets better even if you don’t do anything.” There is a reason for this; it is human nature to want to look good when you know someone is watching. We asked the group to measure the value of the meeting. They did that, and a whole lot more. After taking the measurement, they asked themselves how the next meeting could be better. They immediately put these ideas to use and this made the next meeting better.
Another thing that happened when they started measuring meetings is they found that each person defined “lots of meetings” differently. Some thought two meetings a day was too many while others thought six was the maximum number. The value of measuring the number of meetings was that it gave us a realistic view of how many meetings there were and took away the phrase, “lots of meetings.” One of the participants had a cartoon that showed an office worker on the phone saying, “We don’t do any work here; we just go meetings.” After taking the measurement, they realized that the time spent in meetings was not as bad as originally thought.
The important thing to acknowledge here is that there is no magic formula for better meetings at your company. The magic is in the process of asking questions and letting the group take it were it needs to go. For each group, the answers will be different, but it will be their answers. When the answers belong to your team, you will see team commitment and follow-through, making every meeting as good as it can be….
Copyright © 2003, Bill Kuehn and Steve Wille
Permission granted to copy provided copyright statement clearly appears, along with the web link, www.ToughTeams.com
Contact Bill Kuehn today by filling out the Quick Question Form on the right side of this page, or by clicking here.