Monday, May 31, 2010

Winnowing Recurring Meetings

Whenever someone takes over an IT department, the first thing they're supposed to do is cancel all reports.

The thinking is that many reports are leftovers nobody cares about anymore, and shutting them off is the best way to find out which ones matter to someone.

Have you ever found yourself in a recurring meeting where you wonder what the point of the meeting is?

That meeting is like a zombie report. Nobody really needs it anymore, but there's no process in place for getting rid of the meeting. It just lurches along on inertia, wasting everyone's time.

Because meetings are flow-state interrupters, companies should be proactive about getting rid of recurring meetings nobody needs anymore.

Every recurring meeting should have to interview for its job on an ongoing basis.

After every recurring meeting--or at least quarterly--a survey should be sent to everyone who attended the meeting, asking some questions:
  • Did the meeting start on time?
  • Did the meeting end on time?
  • Do you understand the purpose of this meeting?
  • Do you feel that this meeting met its stated purpose?
  • Based on the average fully burdened salary of the attendees, the cost of this meeting (not counting opportunity cost) was $<put cost here>. Do you think that cost was justified?
  • If you do not feel this meeting is justified, do you feel that it should simply be cancelled, or improved?
  • If you feel the meeting should be cancelled, is there any information communicated during the meeting that should be communicated by some other means (for example, in email)?
  • If you do not feel that this meeting should be cancelled but instead should be improved, which of the following actions do you think should be taken to improve it (check as many as apply)?:
    • Add ______ to the agenda.
    • Remove ______ from the agenda.
    • Change the allocated time to ______.
    • Hold it less often.
    • Make it non-recurring (only hold it when needed).
    • Reduce the number of attendees.
    • Combine it with the ______ meeting.
    • Reschedule it to ______ to leave a larger contiguous block of uninterrupted time available.
If a meeting fails the interview, it should be cancelled, no matter how important the meeting owner thinks the meeting is.

Constant review and winnowing of meetings can, over time, convert this:to this:If a meeting passes the interview but needs improvement, it should be improved per the survey feedback.

Meeting ratings should be considered in employee's annual reviews.

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