A Modest Proposal to Improve Meetings

Tempus Fugit “Meetings: the credible alternative to work.” That is the wry conclusion emblazoned on a mug that sits on my desk. It’s a useful daily reminder. However, until all of you get a mug like that to remind yourselves about the huge corporate waste represented by bad meetings, I’d like to make the following modest proposal to improve meetings.

It’s not unusual for a formal business meeting to be followed by the informal after-meeting discussion.  It’s often in that discussion that the meeting is evaluated and action steps are refined.  I’d suggest that after every meeting the participants take a minute or two to evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting just ended.  Did it have a clear goal?  Were the participants prepared and able to make a decision?  Did the participants meet the goal of the meeting?  Did the person calling the meeting do an effective job?  Did the person chairing the meeting do an effective job? In other words, was the meeting worth the time invested?

If the answer to any of those questions is no and if those participants earn a negative evaluation three times then they should be discouraged from calling meetings until they’ve done some remedial work to improve their ability to organize and deliver productive meetings.  Perhaps they should even be forbidden from participating in meetings until the remedial work is done since they clearly are not adding value to meetings.

This may strike you as overly harsh. However, consider what’s really at stake.  Bad meetings are a tax on productivity and morale.  Worse still, bad meetings waste time.

Of all the resources you and your organization have, time is the scarcest.  Can you really afford to waste it?

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