Creative Leadership

Stop Meeting in Conference Rooms

I hate meetings – no question.  I’m a believer that most meetings could happen in 5-10 minutes, but even most scheduling programs like Outlook, iCal, or Google Calendar schedule meetings in 30-60 minute blocks.  But let me go one further – stop having meetings in the conference room and start meeting at the place where the problem lives.  Meeting at the location of the problem allows everyone to see it, point to it, and discuss specifics.

Here’s my suggestions:

First – cancel as many meeting as possible.  In most cases, you’re only taking good people away from doing real work.  Certainly there’s a time for critical meetings, but start being more selective.
Second – If you have to meet, keep it short. Bring an agenda and once it’s done and someone is chosen to follow up, declare it finished and walk out.
Third – meet at the location of the problem. Look at it, discuss it, find a solution, and then move on.

See how much your productivity increases.

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  1. Outlook or Lotus Notes should have a function that automatically adds the cost of peoples’ time in the subject line of a meeting.

    I’ve been to thousand dollar+ meetings where the the first several hundred dollars are wasted waiting for other people to turn up.

    Maybe that wouldn’t happen if the last person to arrive was sent the bill.

  2. Anthony Pearson that is an inspired comment.  Love that idea.  I think a lot of people don’t even consider the fact that there are both hard and soft costs associated with hosting a meeting – from the coffee and scones to the tens of thousands of man hours wasted every year.



  3. I like the theory that you take all of the chairs out of the conference rooms. That’s one way to make sure meetings don’t last any longer than needed.

  4. Unfortunately there are “meeting people” – their day is filled with meetings. They schedule an hour each week and be sure it will take the full hour. An hour each week – for real? I have a great supervisor. We meet when its needed, we touch base in the hallway onec in a while, then when there is a need, we have a meeting – but nothing scheduled weekly.  I guess he’s not insecure, and he has work to do too.   

  5. Okay Phil, you have convinced me. My next meeting will be outside, next to White’s Creek, a beautiful flowing stream, here in Reno, Nevada. I can hold a meeting for at least 50 people…. here in my back yard. The sky is blue. The grass is green. My fence is red. The cottonwoods give shade. Cost is free!

  6. I agree with all your points. Meetings are usually wasted time because they are not structured properly and the outcomes can be predetermined. Knowing this, we have quick structured meetings with followups when necessary.

  7. Great ideas… But I’d like a show of hands on how many of you work in a matrix managed organisation.

    In my particular case it’s even worse as key poeple in my stream of work are spread across multiple buildings and I’d be lucky to see colleagues in corridors!

  8. Love your comments.  How many unproductive minutes are used to handle things that could be summed up with “how are you?’ – Answer – Fine, and then getting down to business.

    We’ve all been in the meetings that leave one thinking “what is the point of me being here?” I’m curious, though, if anyone has a story to share about how God may have used a “pointless” meeting to fulfill His purposes.  Efficiency is important, but not at the cost of relationship.

  9. It actually came up in my review that I was “insubordinate” for not having weekly “creative meetings” with other department heads in the organization.  My boss wanted me to, so I did.  For three weeks.  One hour per meeting.  After three wasted hours, I stopped having them.  You can’t force people to be creative, especially in a conference table meeting format.  So I took my lumps for doing what I knew was right…to NOT have the meeting.

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