We have a problem that is impacting productivity: I had six meetings today. That pretty much shot my entire workday. A meeting on budgeting, two separate marketing meetings, a meeting on organizational reporting structure, a meeting on product strategy, a meeting on Halloween decorations. I didn’t attend that last meeting on decorating, but I was invited because the organizer wanted a high-ranking creative type. Half of the meetings I didn’t need to be at. Another third probably didn’t need to be held at all.
Yet there I was, frittering away my day. In one meeting I resorted to stabbing my leg with a pencil to keep from shouting out in frustration at the waste of my time. Another meeting I daydreamed through. I answered emails in a third.
I know meetings are an important part of running a business. They are essential for enabling collaboration and innovation, fostering inclusiveness, tapping into diverse ideas, and hearing a range of voices. Sometimes, occasionally, meetings are productive and deliver insights, but they also make it impossible to get any actual creative work done—which is what you brought me in here to do. If I want to do any deep thinking at all, I have to do it early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends. I can tell you, my family isn’t loving that.
Boss, none other than the prestigious Harvard Business Review reported that executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in meetings, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s.
Look, I want to be a good soldier. I want to give my time to the greater good of our organization. But this meeting madness has to stop.
I’m hoping we could institute new company-wide policies for meetings. Like all meetings must have a facilitator and a clearly defined and specific agenda. There must be a compelling reason for any given individual’s presence at a meeting. Why is this person needed? What task or deliverable will they be assigned at the meeting’s end? No outside technology that can lead to distraction will be allowed at meetings.
If these measures aren’t enough to decrease the number of meetings and increase the productivity and benefits of the meetings that we do continue to hold, we can resort to some old-fashioned draconian tactics: No meeting can run past one hour; 30 minutes is better. No food or beverages at a meeting. No chairs! No air-conditioning or heat!
There it is, Boss. I’ve laid it out for you. What do you think?
This is absolutely a concern that must be addressed. Let’s set up a meeting to talk about this.