In many ways the book “Stop the Meeting, I Want to Get Off” is contradictory to “Death by Meeting” and vice versa, but there are common themes. The main common thread is most meetings are time wasters and overall unproductive. The author, Scott Snair, said that today’s managers spend 25%-75% of their workday in a meeting and since there are 40 million people who say they are managers, if each of these managers spent only two hours a day in a meeting, that is 29 BILLION hours a year spent in meetings. Mr. Snair also quoted studies theorizing that half of all the time is unproductive or even worse – destructive. If he is right, that is nearly 15 Billion hours a year wasted in the United States alone, and that number did not mention any support staff whatsoever. If anyone is worried about the future of this country, might I suggest we start with something we can control? Wasted time spent in poorly planned meetings!
He discusses why people have such disdain for meetings:
1. Meetings are thieves of time.
2. Key players are invited and they are the same ones who cannot sit still, always dying to get on to the next task at hand.
3. The best ideas and conversations always happen when the meeting is over.
4. Too much game-playing and posturing during the conduct of the meeting.
5. Nothing gets accomplished.
Scott Snair is extremely anti-meeting, and believes heavily in a one on one management style, strong leadership, organizational channeling, and serious delegation. One of his main points is if a manager divides the time normally spent in a meeting among the various division of his organization, he could simply walk to each area, have a 15 minute talk with the managers in person to get a status, and then move on to the next division head. Managing in this manner would actually make the manager better aware of what is really going on in each competency and would also allow him to meet people in their natural work environments, which would allow the manager to become more knowledgeable about, not only the processes, but the people who are supporting him.
Do you hold meetings or have you been in meetings that could be replaced by one on one conversation? Can every meeting be replaced by this method? If not, which ones and why? Which method do you prefer? Mr. Snair’s anti-meeting, or Mr. Lencioni’s movie-meeting analogy in Part I of this blogging mini-series?