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Do all meetings waste time?

Meetings waste time. But how much and how serious is this problem?

How much rework does meeting time create or alleviate? I’ve been doing a little digging around amongst my Linked in buddies’ about how much time analytics and data science teams spend in meetings.

It’s been very interesting. I’ve learnt a few things.

1. I should ask a single question: I asked what percentage of the team’s time was spent in meetings, and what percentage of that was wasted. About a quarter of the answers were a single number, prompting me to have to ask for clarification. no biggie, just a flaw in my asking!

2. Some think that all meetings are a waste of time. There is a part of the analytics / data space population who just think all meetings are counter-productive (is that true?) and have eliminated meetings altogether. not sure how productive that is.

3. Hidden Lost time doesn’t register with most people. There is only a basic understanding of what wasted time might be in meetings (many think just an agenda and starting on time will make the difference). There’s so far very little appreciation for the concept that behaviours within the meetings themselves ┬ámay be causing rework and wasting everyone else’s time (multi-tasking anyone?).

I made the Smart Meeting Bingo tool a few years ago. It addresses some of the behaviours which cause lost time in the workplace (sometimes it’s not lost in the meeting, it’s lost outside the meeting because the meeting was ineffective).

More than one person has told me that their meetings aren’t unproductive because “inside the meeting people are answering their emails and doing other work”. This flies in the face of the growing body of work that says we can’t multitask and all we’re doing by trying to do so it fatiguing our brain, opening ourselves to stress and anxiety. 

4. It could certainly be better: there seems to be plenty of scope for saving time and removing rework from meetings (and its knock on effect in the rest of the work we do).

I’ve also been led to some great resources.

This one, the 22 Minute meeting (also here) is an excellent way to make meetings more productive. The poster is fabulous, and the ignite talk is humorous and insightful, and takes only 5 minutes.

Find other ideas and resources on meetings here

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