Why are meetings so bad?


Meetings are a business necessity whether you like it or not. There will always be a need for people to get together, physically or virtually, to share, create, listen, decide, present, inform or debate. For the foreseeable future, therefore, meetings and their outcomes will help define an organisation’s success.

Some meetings are undoubtedly brilliant. Many aren’t. Most could have been better. The objectives could have been better articulated, the intended outcomes made clearer, the prep before and after better co-ordinated, the host could have engaged more thoughtfully with the participants, a more suitable format and technology for the meeting could have been used. It’s no wonder that excellent meetings are few and far between. In the absence of a robust meetings methodology and measure of inputs and outputs, the likelihood of great meetings ‘just happening’ is slim.

Meetings are a problem that are ‘hiding in plain sight’. Bad meeting experiences have become normalised and expected; but why… and why is that OK? It certainly shouldn’t be. It should be something that keeps business owners and managers awake at night because it goes to the very heart of the culture of a business and how stuff gets done.

A significant contributing factor is the lack of an effective measure to quantify the scale of problem. For those that regularly attend meetings, we are all aware that we’re in too many meetings. We also know that the outcomes aren’t what they could be. However, we are only aware on a meeting-by-meeting basis. No-one assesses the scale of the problem at aggregate. For example – what is a company’s Meeting Baseline? Specifically, how many meetings, for what period of time, at what cost, involving which people took place in the previous 12 months; organisation-wide? How did individuals, functions, teams and departments compare to one-another? No-one knows this. They should do. They should want to know it at the very least.

What is certain is that effective management is impossible without effective measurement. Defining your Meeting Baseline should therefore be an absolute priority. Only at that point can you set a Meeting Budget (your desired future Meeting State). Successfully transitioning from your Meeting Baseline to your Meeting Budget will define the outcomes that are realised. And we haven’t even got started on the importance of measuring meeting outcomes, yet there’s a total lack of ability for most to do so! I’ll leave that for another article. Regardless, Adoptt is on hand to guide you through the Meetings Minefield on your journey to Meetings Magnificence!

Steven Willert

Steven Willert

Founder, Director and creative vision of Adoptt. Building and leading a team of industry pioneers to re-imagine workplace transformation in a way that enables organisations to survive and thrive in a world of digital disruption.

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