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Cage-rattling Question #44: The ultimate ban on meetings


Like the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, each new year brings the usual article on the wastefulness of meetings in business.  This is typically followed by an article that proves with an agenda and leader, meetings can be productive. Over time these two ideas fade in the real work of work and true inertia sets in.

But let's try anyway.

In the Harvard Business Review, Michael Mankins wrote the astonishing results of research on one major company's time spent on executive meetings. "My colleagues and I gathered data about time use at one large company and found that people there spent 300,000 hours a year just supporting the weekly executive committee meeting.

And according to the software company, Atassian, "31 hours are spent in unproductive meetings, and most employees are attending 62 meetings a month."

In one of my favorite books, 75 Cage-ratting Questions to Change the Way You Work, #44 wants to rattle the meeting cage:  "What would happen if your company instituted a one year ban on meetings?"

The hypothesis is not that companies don't need meetings, but that there are too many of them and most are poorly run.  Think about the best meeting you've attended in the past few months and the worst. Think about how many hours you've spent in unproductive meetings.  

Your next meeting should be about meetings.  What is working, what isn't.  Can you make a compelling case (as you would any big initiative) for banning or reducing the typical meeting? Will anyone listen?

Create the unmeeting.  






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