Select Page

Best Meeting is NO Meeting. 3 Ways to Eliminate Meetings

Meetings are a productivity killer

CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2,000 hiring and human resource managers from a variety of industries and company sizes. They wanted to identify the worst productivity offenders and came up with a top 10 list. Fast Company interviewed me and other experts on cutting through those productivity killers.

One of the key productivity killers was meetings (#8 on the list at 26%). That’s an area where I have seen great room for improvement across countless industries and organizations. I’ve helped many of these organizations with best practices for meeting effectiveness. Often, however, the BEST meeting is NO Meeting. So how do you get there?

Tip #1: Accomplish meeting goals by other means and enforce meeting discipline

Meetings are typically organized to accomplish one or more of these five goals:

  1. Problem Solving
  2. Decision Making
  3. Planning
  4. Status Reporting & Information Sharing
  5. Feedback

Status reporting, information sharing, and feedback are most easily replaced with other means such as e-mails, reports, dashboards, and WIKIs (see tip #3).

Enforcing good meeting discipline will reduce the number of meetings.  Require an agenda for every meeting and require that meeting notes and actions be published immediately after the meeting.  This discourages meeting just for the sake of meeting.

Tip #2: Apply Good Project Management Practices

During a large construction project in China we were able to reduce daily meeting times by 75% (from 3 hours to 45 minutes). We did this by publishing the daily status prior to the meeting and highlighting the important items with a “What’s changed” report and a critical path/schedule in jeopardy report we could focus on the important issues.

Extra status meetings were eliminated through a solid project management system with easy daily reporting.  Status reports became credible and actionable. Meetings to just review the status were no longer needed.  Having a solid requirements database, a good WBS, and good activity lists eliminate project confusion and reduce the number of meetings needed to clarify requirements once you are under way.

Tip #3: Harness Technology

Open source software offers incredibly powerful technology solutions that can be much cheaper and more responsive than traditional off the shelf solutions. Real time dashboards, online collaboration tools, document sharing, and even things as simple as e-mails and reports can replace the need for a meeting when used properly.

About the author:

Mike Fritsch is President and COO of Confoe in Austin, Texas. Mike is also  President of ISPI-Texas, the Texas wide chapter of ISPI. Mike has appeared in numerous publicationsincluding Fast CompanyUS News & World Report,  Renewable Energy WorldPlatt’s Energy Economist, and Sun and Wind Energy.

About Confoe:

Since 2002, Confoe has provided project management services, consulting,  and custom software solutions for clients ranging from the Fortune 50 to new venture start-ups. Clients have included:  Intel, Dell, SoloPower, HelioVolt,  and the Environmental Defense Fund.