submit to reddit

bored_cat2.jpg In another one of those “I can’t believe they had to spend money on that!” studies, scientists have proven that too many meetings make people grumpy.
Worst of all, according to Slow Leadership (how’s that for a name?) holding too many meetings passes a strong message: the boss doesn’t trust the team to function without his or her constant interference; and colleagues don’t trust one another not to undermine them in some way.
Last week, something like 80% of the number of hours that should constitute a sane work week was taken up with meetings. Every single one of them ran an hour or longer, although not all of them were worth 10 minutes. So Seth Godin’s post on how to solve the meeting problem resonated. Here are some of his must-do recommendations:

  • Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length?
  • Schedule meetings in increments of five minutes. Require that the meeting organizer have a truly great reason to need more than four increments of realtime face time.
  • Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don’t, kick them out.
  • The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
  • Create a public space (either a big piece of poster board or a simple online page) that allows attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. Just a simple box where everyone can write a number. Watch what happens.

What do you do to solve the problem of time-wasting meetings?
Update: I first published this post back in March 2009. Now that I have a corporate job, and spend half my days in meetings, I just had to publish it again. I think a lot of people will relate.