Meetings can be a source of wasted time if not organized and conducted properly. Most organizations waste up to 20% of their payroll on bad meetings based on employee wage and time spent in meetings.
Meetings can be described as wasteful if any or all of the following things occur within the meeting:
- Meet and there is no discussion
- Meet and discuss but no decision is made
- Meet and decide but no one follows through
To ensure you are getting the most benefit from your meetings, you should assess, plan and organize prior to even scheduling one.
Kaizen Guide: Better your business with continuous improvement
To be successful, you can’t make an improvement once and forget about it. Effective lean businesses use kaizen, which means “continuous improvement”. In kaizen, everyone looks for ways to improve processes on a daily basis. This Kaizen Guide explains the kaizen mindset, basic kaizen concepts including the PDCA cycle, and real-world examples.
Before even considering holding a meeting, ask yourself the following questions.
- Is a meeting needed?
- What is the purpose and outcome expected?
- Is a meeting the best route to complete the task?
- Is there consequences if there is no meeting?
- How will the meeting be evaluated to see if it was a success or a failure?
Some meetings can be eliminated altogether.
- Reoccurring Meetings – Meetings that are held simply because they have always been held, should be evaluated for a continued need and eliminated if it is determined there is no longer a need for it.
- Follow-up Meetings – Meetings to discuss a previous meeting, usually because the previous meeting was so poor that it needs reworked should be eliminated and more emphasis put on making the original meeting more effective
- Informational Meetings – Meetings solely to distribute information most likely can be eliminated by finding more efficient alternatives for information to be distributed.
- Ill Prepared Meetings – When the meeting leader is not prepared and tries to just “wing it”, the meeting should be cancelled or rescheduled to a later time to allow for proper preparation and organization. If the leader is regularly ill prepared, then a new leader should be appointed.
- Unimportant or Redundant Meetings – When the decision has already been made or when the topic is not important enough to justify everyone’s time, the meeting should be eliminated.
Organize a Successful Meeting
Before scheduling a meeting, make sure you have enough time to plan the meeting. Create an agenda and distribute the agenda to the meeting participants so they have time to plan and prepare for what is to be discussed. Ensure the meeting is held during a time that is available and convenient to all attendees.
Why Did We Have This Meeting?
Virtually every item on an agenda can be placed in one of the following: Discussion, Information or Decision. If the item or topic does not fit into one of those categories, it should be strongly considered for elimination.
Some legitimate reasons for holding a meeting would be:
- Need for Group Input – You need the interaction of opinions to create an idea plan or project
- Need for Group Dynamics – Group dynamics are essential to accomplish the purpose
- Time Limitations / Tight Deadlines – Time restrictions limit other options and a prompt decision is needed
- Complexity – The subject is sufficiently complex and warrants further discussion and evaluation
Running The Meeting
When organizing a meeting remember to always start the meeting at the scheduled start time and do not continue to wait for late people. Be sure to stick to the times laid out in the agenda and do not run over the scheduled finish time. If there is a substantial amount of material that is left uncovered at the time the meeting is scheduled to end, schedule another meeting to cover that material, do not try to cram it all in the initial meeting if it causes the meeting to go late.
Resource: Special thanks to LeanKaizen LTD for some great bullet point tips.
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