A very interesting article popped onto my daily alert from LinkeIn. Jeff Deneen, a partner at Bain & Co (Mitt Romney’s ex-employer, but don’t hold that against him!) has given some tips on evaluating the needfulness of meetings. Far be it from me to suggest that the HE sector could do with some tips!!

A couple of his best suggestions:

  • Meetings should have a purpose (Heaven forfend)

Have a purpose. If you don’t know why you’re meeting, don’t meet! Most valuable meetings have one of three purposes: inform, discuss or decide. Before calling a meeting, think about whether you could inform people through a different medium, or use a tool to reach a decision. And take most standing meetings off your calendar, because they breed poor habits. If a meeting is truly the best alternative, be clear on its purpose and desired outcome.

  • Think about the length of meetings (it can’t be a proper meeting unless it’s longer than your lunch break!?)

Change the default time. Not too long ago, most companies called 30-minute meetings. Now the typical default time has grown to 60 minutes, even though every additional minute generates a higher cost. How about a rule that says if a meeting lasts more than 90 minutes, it requires approval by an executive who is two levels above the convener?

  • Do we need to invite everyone and their neighbour (and their neighbour’s best friend, just in case!)

Manage the invite list. In many companies, it’s bad form not to invite lots of people to a meeting. What people don’t realize is that every additional attendee adds cost and gets in the way. Remember the Rule of 7, which states that every attendee over a total of 7 reduces the likelihood of making a good, quick, executable decision by 10 percent. Once you hit 16 or 17 people, your potential for decision effectiveness is close to zero.

CLICK HERE for the full article, it’s worth a read, and there’s a very good anecdote about how to test who should be attending your meeting!


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