Can Meetings Be Eliminated?
How can you use smart apps to reduce the time people spend in meetings? What solutions are available to ensure that, if you minimize meetings, you don’t compromise on results?
The Meet of the Matter
Any meeting that won’t directly generate revenue or cost savings–either in the form of a key decision or a concrete plan of action–is a complete waste of money.
It’s a bold claim from Jeff Haden, but his reasoning has merit. In his article, the exaggeratedly-titled Why 99 Percent of All Meetings Are a Complete Waste of Money, Haden reflects that every person in the meeting has a cost per hour to the business. When they’re in the meeting, they’re not working – so the meeting surely should be catered towards having the maximum amount of impact without wasting any time?
We’ve already discussed how to automatically turn meeting minutes into trackable action items, but the way in which meetings are run also needs a good rethinking. Virginia Heffernan discussed in Meet Is Murder how former Google employee Octavian Costache and British essayist Paul Graham are both crying out for changes in the way that meetings are held. Virginia says:
They’re boring. They’re useless. Everyone hates them. So why can’t we stop having meetings?
The underpinning point is this: Meetings don’t benefit everyone, they aren’t getting used efficiently, and with smart apps on the rise, there’s no need to keep up old habits.
So, two questions: How can smart apps help minimize the need for meetings, and, if you intend to hold a meeting, how can smart apps help minimize the meeting time without compromising team cohesion?
Maximizing Productivity, Minimizing Meetings
Haden goes into detail about what makes an inefficient meeting. To address this Haden recommends:
- Stopping people from ‘thinking out loud’
- Starting the meeting even if people are late, etc.
- Establishing clear meeting goals in advance of the meeting. (And not veering off topic)
- While you set aside some number of minutes for the meeting, end early when the objective is met.
To achieve this Haden points out three elements over which you should already have control: information, accountability, and teamwork.
Information, Accountability, and Teamwork
“Holding a meeting to share information wastes the entire group’s time,” says Haden. There are many apps available that help get the right information to team members when they need it. The best of these keep teams focused, keep distracting communications at bay, and help team members find information quickly when needed.
Messenger software such as Slack provides teams with instantaneous means of interaction enabling team members to resolve issues quickly without a formal meeting. Distractions are minimized through Slack’s notification topics — a short list of topics defined by the team which keeps conversations on-point. However, beware that Slack push notifications, like email, can also be a disruptive force, distracting people from their current priorities. Train your team to realize the difference. There’s no need to read and respond to every message as they come in. That also makes teams inefficient.
For accountability, Haden urges his readers to ‘never let ownership be fuzzy or unclear… it quickly becomes no one’s responsibility’. This is similar to something we’ve discussed before, the “DRI” methodology Steve Jobs used at Apple. Clear ownership and transparent accountability drives work to completion.
Shared, online checklists create accountability. Team members not only see their responsibilities, they also see other people getting things done which increases accountability and productivity for everyone. However, the manual effort it takes to keep track of everything can be high. Managers need to assure that the transition of work from one team member to another occurs efficiently and nothing falls through the cracks. TeamworkIQ solves this problem by automatically managing the checklist and coordinating all the tasks and work assignment transitions for you. No more time wasted in meetings getting status updates and letting others know they have the next step. Instead, TeamworkIQ tracks everything and moves work forward to free up everyone’s time for more highly productive uses.
Great business relationships are created when people work together toward a common goal–and are able to count on one another to do their part, meet commitments, and get things done. In short, great relationships happen when you produce tangible outcomes and achieve meaningful goals. Not before–after. – Jeff Haden
With TeamworkIQ, transparency and clarity go hand in hand. Smart checklists get everyone on the same page, focused and productive. Workers know what is expected. Long meetings for project status updates and coordination of next steps are no longer needed.
With clear goals and efficient collaboration tools to hand, teams can work in unison to achieve results.
Change for The Better
Are your meetings the best use of time for your teams? How can you shift from using meeting time to get updates and coordinate next steps to a more high-value face-to-face collaboration to conceive, debate and think up new innovative solutions to problems? Move on from outdated practices. Smarter apps like Slack and TeamworkIQ are there to help you do it.