|Dear Meeting Guru,
How can we measure the value of a meeting?
We can measure whether the participants are satisfied, but how do
we track the results? For example, suppose we had a mandate to decrease
the time spent in meetings by 50%. We could measure and put a value
on the time saved, but how about peoples' lack of motivation to
implement decisions that were not fully discussed how do
we measure the cost of that? Do you know of any studies which measure
the consequences of poor (i.e., rushed) decisions?
It sounds to me like you've forgotten the fundamental purpose of meeting in
the first place. You should be conducting meetings to share information and
collaborate on projects. What's important is the quality of work and the decisions
generated from the meeting, not the time taken to meet. Of course, we generally
recommend having shorter meetings, but that's simply because most meetings drag
on unnecessarily. If you're in a meeting and everyone is working hard and generating
great ideas, you're being productive and that's the whole point.
You're obviously trying to eliminate unproductive meetings, which is great.
But don't sacrifice the quality of the meeting, just so you can reach your mandate
of halving the time of all meetings. What I would suggest is to schedule meetings
for the amount of time in which you think a decision could be reached. If everyone
is still working productively when time is up, ask the group if they'd prefer
to keep going or book a second meeting. Often people have other commitments,
need a break or have other work to catch up on. In these instances, a second
meeting is best. However, if ideas are flowing and participants have the time,
it's best to keep the momentum going and continue the meeting.
I hope this perspective helps. For some general information on the state of
meetings today, read www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingbasics/meetstate.asp.
It sounds like your organization has their meetings under control, but if anyone
needs a refresher course, basic meeting training is available at www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingbasics/training.asp.
If lengthy meetings are a problem, here are 10+ tips for starting and finishing
your meetings on time: www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingplanning/agenda/meetontime.asp.
I really admire your desire to improve your meetings.
Remember, there's a lot of information out there, so keep studying and learning.
As the wise philosopher Confucius once said, "Reviewing what you have learned
and learning anew, you are fit to be a teacher."
may good meeting karma always be with you.