The dispensability of meetings

At the end of May The Vancouver Sun posted an article about how meetings kill productivity. (article)

Not really news, is it?

Every person I know who works in a company that has meetings (read: most of them) could tell you that meetings suck the marrow out of your productive work time.

What was nice about the article is that they gave a thorough list of methods to reduce or eliminate meetings, or to make the meetings you should (not are, but should) be having more effective. A lot of them I knew, but it was a nice, comprehensive list.

There isn’t a boss I know that isn’t interested in increasing productivity. And you know what would increase productivity? Reducing meetings and making the meetings you can’t burn in a fire more effective and efficient.

So I had a fleeting urge to recommend reading this article and implementing some of these meeting killing tips at our company to the management team.  But in re-reading the list I realise that our managers are often the worst violators when it comes to abusing meetings. I was trying to imagine all of them sat in a meeting room with their laptops (gasp) closed and just couldn’t quite do it.

It’s a shame I’m not the boss of everything. I would love to implement the majority of these meeting killers and have people get on with what they have to do. Then I realised that there is a lot of truth in the quote they included from economist John Kenneth Galbraith who said, “meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything”.

Perhaps you wouldn’t have to worry about running tighter meetings if you just made sure your employees (including your management!) were actually interested in doing the work they had in front of them.

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