We all suffer through boring, endless, useless meetings but no one is doing anything about it. Here’s a very effective method for reducing the amount of time spent in meetings. In order to work, this will have to be done with the one or two people who really make decisions in your team/group/department/organization/company.
Step 1: Raise hell about time wasted in meetings. Put a dollar amount on it to make it look really painful.
Step 2: Call a meeting to discuss (this will hopefully be one of the last meetings you’ll attend) with the decision makers (and no one else.)
Step 3: Draw a matrix on the whiteboard – rows for required meetings, columns for required attendees. Forget about optional attendees; they are a distraction. Fill up the table, marking a cell only if this person is absolutely required in that meeting.
Step 4: Eliminate meetings that aren’t absolutely necessary, and participants that are not expected to contribute anything. Passive listeners can always get meeting summaries by email – no need to waste their time and yours.
Step 5: Decide on frequencies – not every meeting has to happen on a weekly basis. If you end up with monthly recurrence or longer, the meeting is probably redundant.
Step 6: Have the decision maker(s) announce the change formally and make sure the new schedules get implemented immediately.
Step 7: Enjoy your newly freed time.