Re: How Much Time in Meetings? LO3697

james rieley (
Mon, 13 Nov 1995 06:48:57 -0600

Replying to LO3648 --

Bruce, I tend to think that the issue should not be how much time is spent
in meetings, but rather, how effective the meetings are. Our institution
has a management council that is comprised of about 125-135 people. (We
are the largest two year technical college in the US, with over 70,000
students, 3000 employees, two public television stations, two business
incubators, and an annual budget of over $203,000,000) Two years ago, we
did a survey at one of the mgmt council meetings to determine the cost of
meetings. The survey had 6 questions: 1)how many meetings do you attend
in an average week; 2) what is the average length of the meetings; and
four questions relating to the quality/effectiveness of the meetings.
During a break in the day-long meeting, I compiled the results. (I
multiplied the average number of meetings by the average length of
meetings by the average wage for the people in the room (the management
council only). The resultant number ($2,250,000 plus a 30%+ fringe factor
= about $3,000,000) was the first time we had determined what the meetings
were actually costing the college. This in of itself was not good or bad
news; it was just news. We never knew before. The answers to the other
four questions told us that it was bad news. We took that information to
our CQI Steering Committee, who developed a plan to train facilitators to
improve the effectiveness of meetings. The result has been dramatic. The
number of meetings has not diminshed, but the effectiveness of the time
spent has dramatically improved. JBR

>I have been told that between 40% and 70% of management time is spent in
>meetings. I am very keen to verify this figure. Can anyone support it,
>or provide an alternative. In particular I am interested in discovering
>source research documents, so any references to books etc that might deal
>with this issue would be very welcome.

James B. Rieley
The Center for Continuous Quality Improvement
Milwaukee Area Technical College
700 West State Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
414.297.6475 FAX