Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Meeting of the Minds

Having assisted in a several systems implementations in the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to see how a variety of project tools can help keep the process organized. Without them, too much is left to chance and misunderstanding. Not good!

I have also participated in quite a few related business meetings of various types and sizes. Some of them have confirmed the insights of Reid Hastie, the Robert S. Hamada Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, who pointed out in "Meetings Are Matter of Precious Time" in the New York Times, that in poorly planned meetings "the leader has not set clear objectives or an agenda, and didn’t assign pre-meeting preparation tasks. Instead, the leader seems to hope that magic will occur, producing a serendipitous solution to some of the problems addressed. Of course, that doesn’t happen. As a general rule, meetings make individuals perform below their capacity and skill levels.

"This doesn’t mean we should always avoid face-to-face meetings — but it is certain that every organization has too many meetings, and far too many poorly designed ones.  The main reason we don’t make meetings more productive is that we don’t value our time properly. The people who call meetings and those who attend them are not thinking about time as their most valuable resource."

Paul Collins, a management consultant providing high-performance techniques and technologies that support collaborative problem-solving and decision-making, notes that a 2001 Wharton School of Business study on meeting productivity showed that businesses in the aggregate incur annual meeting expenses of $30M to $100M, yet these meetings result in annual business losses of $54 million to $3.7 billion! Managers spend 25%-80% of their time in meetings, yet report that only 33%-47% of that time is productive, and while meetings dominate employees' time, they are generally costly, unproductive, and unsatisfying.

To help managers get a better grip on managing meetings, Paul has developed a Decision Cost Analysis tool to provide a comprehensive and eye-opening picture of true meeting costs and a roadmap to opportunities for reducing intangible expenses by using external resource costs more effectively. This helps clarify how the structure and design of decision-focused meetings can increase the effectiveness of the meeting process and in turn, how changes in meeting processes impact favorably on individual, team, and organizational performance.

I suggest you take a look at the Decision Cost Analysis tool to see for yourself how you can benefit from it.

See also Five Secrets To Leading Meetings That Matter.

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