Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meeting Management: Keep Meetings Short And Frequent

Time is the most valuable, scare, underutilized, and wasted resource on earth.  And very few are able to understand this fact depending on how much they see value in time.    

Time and time again we have been to endless meetings resulting into huge waste of time for everyone present there.  Everyone forgets that even though it's one hour meeting in reality it's not.  For example, if four star developers are scheduled to meet for one hour with one business analyst then let's start counting how much time is wasted.  We will assume that our fictitious meeting turns out to be useless.

First let's put 5 hours straight since they all could have worked 5 hours on their projects.  We are talking about star developers which are far more productive and produce less bugs than the average developers.  So now we are talking even more hours wasted.  Let's put 30 mins extra for each star developer.  7 hours wasted and counting.  Ok we are still not done yet.

Developers work in the zone so if you pull out them from their zone for just one hour then they cannot get back into zone quickly.  Since we have assumed that the meeting has turned out to be useless and emotionally challenging, our developers are disturbed and they cannot put their focus back to work quickly.  Put another 30 mins per developer.  9 hours wasted when we only scheduled the meeting for 1 hour.  And many times meetings go beyond 1 hour so you can do the math on a specific situation. So let's round the number to 10.  

If all five of them earned $100/hour then 1*10*$100=$1000 is wasted every hour.  Of course when you have to conduct meetings then you have to.  There is no way out of it.  In that case you will try to minimize the damage as much as possible by keeping meetings as short as possible.  Read this article from Harvard Blogs on Extreme ways to shorten and reduce meetings and another one from 37signals on Meetings considered as harmful.

There are many companies which implement strict rules managing meeting times.  Keep it short and if required conduct more meetings but keep track of outcomes from previous meetings.