Meeting Expectations

18 01 2010

In a recent MyMidwest (Midwest Airlines) inflight magazine there is a story by Kimberly Douglas of FireFly Facilitation on Meeting Management.  If we look at a couple of the numbers from Douglas’ research we can begin to quantify the impact of meetings.

38,000 msft employees say that their 5.6 hours per week spent in meetings are unproductive.  That’s over 11 million hours of meetings.  Now if we say the average msft employee makes 100k per year (including benefits), that translates to ~ $50/hr.  If we do the math, that’s ~ $550 million a year in meeting costs.

Microsoft’s 2009 annual income was $58.4 billion which makes just their meeting costs roughly 1% of their annual income.  Let’s make a couple more assumptions: that half of that value is waste (more people than needed, run longer than necessary, etc) and we could reduce that by 10% which should be easy.  The result is ~ $22.5 million.  I am guessing here, but it should be worthwhile to at least try and improve upon meeting management and find some other way to leverage that $22 million.

  • What % of time do you spend in meetings?
  • Would your employees feel that meeting management and effectiveness could be improved upon?
  • What would you do with an additional 1% of your annual income?
  • In what ways could you improve meeting management?




Practice

10 06 2009

On of my favorite hobbies is coaching little league baseball.  During a game last year it hit me that many meetings are run in a similar manner.  Pardon me for the comparision, but the similarities can provide a little humor at a process that all too often needs improvement.

As I watched, I noticed I had three outfielders playing in the dirt, my third baseman had one foot in foul territory, and my second baseman was standing on second base.  I also had a few players that were ready, on their toes, and prepared.

  • How often at your meetings do you have the back of their room paying sporadic attention while most of their focus is either on their laptop or blackberry?
  • How many people do you have playing by their own rules?
  • What percent of the room is prepared and actively participating in the meeting?

As a coach, we know we need a game plan.  Yet often we “wing it” because of experience and love for the game.   Sometimes this works, and sometimes not-so-much.

During practice, we can move people into groups of like needs and work at different speeds to excel learning (or at least repetition).  We can redo things as many times as necessary.  We can freely move people into different positions.

We have the luxury of a practice schedule – organizations and managers do not.  They have to learn while doing.  They do not get trophies for participation.  We need our people to be prepared and active in a meeting or else we are not maximizing our use of time.

If the meeting is to understand a performance issue, then we need to have someone write up the issue and send a brief summary to the team.  We need the rest of the team to have read the brief, done their relevant research, and prepared a list of potential recommendations to discuss.  The meeting should not be about discussing what research needs to be done – it should be about looking at the research and agreeing upon a course of action.





The Continuous Improvement Meeting – CIM

2 04 2009

Including on this blog, much has been written about meeting management: how to run a more effective meeting, improving meeting outcomes, etc. All concepts in which I am in complete support. I’ve found, however, that it is very difficult to implement wholesale change into an organization’s meeting culture. And there are several characteristic profiles of meeting culture within organizations.

Meetings typically occur for the purpose of communicating information, yet most meetings I’ve witnessed over my career consistently end with no action or accountability to do something. So, what I’m going to suggest here is not a change in your existing meeting culture. Continue to hold the meetings that your organization routinely conducts, for whatever the purpose. But, if your organization is serious about driving operational performance improvement, you need to add a meeting to your schedule. Yes, that’s right. I’m advocating yet another meeting. This meeting is specific in purpose. It never deviates its agenda. And it is a critical management tool for driving performance improvement.

The continuous improvement meeting or “CIM” has five objectives.

1. Review progress against KPIs
2. Identify barriers to performance
3. Share best practices
4. Develop action plans for next period
5. Recognize superior performance

The CIM is 45 minutes in length, maximum. It is conducted at every level of the organization. This is critical to insure all levels of the operation are aligning their efforts with the strategy. Typically, the meeting should occur weekly at the front line to monthly and/or quarterly at the executive level.

The keys to successful implementation of the CIM are:

  •  It is a separate, distinct meeting. Not part of another meeting agenda.
  •  45 minutes maximum
  •  It is held at the same time & day every period
  •  It must be group meeting

One of the biggest gaps in operational performance management is the area of management effectiveness. We tend to focus on effectiveness and efficience of front line contributors. But how exactly does management improve its effectiveness at managing? Try implementing the Continuous Improvement Meeting into your management process and see how much more focus you create around the metrics that are important to your organization’s strategy.





Meeting Management & Agendas

26 03 2009
  • How much money do you spend annually on meetings?
  • Do people show up on time, follow an agenda, and end the meetings on time?
  • Do meetings regularly create and review actions?

Meetings need structure and process, yet most meetings happen because of momentum. “We always meet on Fridays as a team.” We meet to discuss and communicate. Yet this discussion is typically around individual status updates, and less about what needs to happen, or hurdles that need to be cleared.

Shouldn’t every meeting have a well defined purpose to specifically create an action. Change “meet to review project status” to “meet to analyze project performance, understand risks, and make recommendations.” Now we go from asking people to attend the meeting TO preparing the team for the meeting. Roles and tasks should be assigned and materials need to be reviewed prior to the meeting.

Here is a link to Seth Godin’s blog on the same subject – Getting Serious about your Meeting Problem