Does Your Workplace Waste Time With Meetings?

Collaboration is the heart of most business processes, but that all too often results in long meetings that don't seem to get much done. Has your company mastered productive meetings yet?

Picture by criminalintent

On his personal blog, Exetel boss John Linton (who last popped up on these pages discussing to-do bankruptcy) suggests that many businesses organise meetings without thinking of whether the same results could be achieved more effectively another way:

It appears to me that there have always been a lot of unnecessary 'meetings' associated with business life and over the last few years I have wondered whether the true benefits of web sites and email have really 'sunk in' to the business processes of many companies we deal with. Perhaps so many meetings are needed to fill in the average business day for too many people?

It's a good question to ask. Have you found meetings are less common in your workplace, or are you still sneakily checking your RSS feed on a smart phone during the dull bits? Tell us how you roll in the comments.

How Many Business Meetings Are Useful?


    My experience is that managers who only communicate with their staff via email (i.e., they don't have many inter-personnel skills), force a non-meeting culture throughout the business. In other words, they see meetings as a waste of time. As such it is difficult to develop team-spirit, and communication throughout the business suffers (email, by its very nature - informal & quick - is not a good delegation & planning communication tool).

    I also see (and despise) many unnecessary meetings. These are nearly always unstructured, uncontrolled and have no particular goal. My favourite meeting structure within an organisation is:
    1. Non-decision, 'Stand-up' Meetings (borrowing from agile methods), which are used to disseminate information.
    2. Sit-down, 'Conflict Resolution' Meetings, which are used to solve specific problems.

    The key to meetings being successful is to have both an agenda and some clearly defined meeting rules and to stick to both. Both the agenda and minutes (I prefer an 'Action Table' over verbose minutes) can be developed, maintained and made available on the Intranet.

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