Agile & Digital / Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

The ripple effect of Meetings

I came across the  interesting sideshow embedded here –  This Weekly Meeting Took Up 300,000 Hours a Year  –  that looked at the ripple effect of preparation that a senior meeting causes.

  • A weekly excom meeting consumed 7,000 hours of executive time, already a lot.
  • To prepare for this the 11 attendees each hold preparation meetings – there goes another 20,000 hou
  • To prepare for these the attendees call their own preparation meetings – a total of 300,000 hours, driven by that single exco meeting per week.

From our own work we know that the average cost per person per hour of a meeting of managerial and professional people, is around $60. So this one meeting creates $18M per year of costs.

In the article the objective of the exco meeting is defined as “to provide updates on all phases of the business”. This is a pretty poor reason for a meeting, information giving and activity and status updates can be delivered asynchronously by email or website – certainly for a lot less than $18M per year. Meetings should be about the things we can only do synchronously like discussion, co-creation and decision making.

I can well imagine that these types of exco meetings consist of lots of update presentations of relatively low relevance to the other participants.

I did a similar exercise with a famously micromanaging CEO of a financial services organization. His weekly meetings asked inappropriately detailed questions of senior leaders, expecting them to know what every office had sold the previous week. I calculated that over 10,000 people had to submit at least some input to make sure all the business heads were (over) prepared, every week.

If you attend or run meetings that generate lots of work and want to find ways to have fewer, better meetings why not check out our Effective  Meetings training.

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