They are lazy, time-consuming and cost a lot of money

January 23, 2011

… and their name is: MEETINGS. Many of them are not necessary, many do not bring any substantial results. It is estimated that an average organisation wastes up to 20%(!) of their payroll on bad meetings. What can be done against it?

Have you ever attended a bad meeting? Many times? Then welcome to the club! What is actually the characteristics of a bad meeting? They mostly do not bring any constructive discussion or the participants discuss topics but do not meet any decision or even if a decision has been made, it will not be implemented. And that form of meetings can even consume up to 1/5 of payroll. How to avoid that waste? That is quite easy – try to calculate how much is the time of the participants worth. 1 hour time of a person with annual salary amounting to USD 35,000 cost approximately USD 21 while the same 1 hour of a person with annual salary of USD 100,000 cost USD 60.

Source: © Rainer Sturm / PIXELIO

Lean management is about eliminating waste. As wasted time for instance, causing outflow of valuable resources from the organisation.

It makes sense to ask the following questions before organizing a meeting:

• Do you really need a meeting; are there no other alternatives?
• What is the objective of the meeting and expected results?
• Is a meeting the best measure to accomplish the objective?
• What would happen if the meeting had not taken place?
• How to determine if the meeting was successful or not after it has been finished?
• Does the meeting match the general objectives of our organisation?

Are meetings necessary? Of course, they are. There are a few reasons why we organize them:

• We need a brain storming or the interaction of different people, views and opinions to create a new value,
• We need group dynamics,
• We need a decision to be met – and time restrictions limit other options,
• The topic is relatively complex so that we need different experts to discuss it.

Source: © Gerd Altmann, Jacob Seligmann / PIXELIO

There is a so-called 4W’s methodology how to prepare successful meetings (Where?, When?, What? and Who?). That means: convenient facilities should be chosen and the cost aspect should be taken into consideration (Where?). Regarding the When?-dimension, it is recommended to avoid organizing meetings at the beginning or the end of the week, try to find a convenient time when all participants are available, and offer them enough time for preparation. The What?-dimension points out that every item on the agenda could be placed in discussion, information or decision. And finally the Who?-part tells us that the fewer participants of the meeting, the better and only those persons should be invited who really need to be there.

Meetings under the lean methodology seem to be quite simple, don’t they? Just try to think about those simple rules while organizing your next meeting. Just meet smarter (but not harder).

Magdalena Szarafin


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