The ROI of Teams LO11369
Wed, 11 Dec 1996 12:58:28 -0500

Replying to LO11356 --

Patria writes:

" But one of their concerns is the tremendous time it takes to get work
done due to the constant stream of meetings. Most are now working longer
hours to compensate for this. Does this ever get better? "

I suspect this posting will draw out a thousand stories, this is just one
of them.

In a former life I was the logistics director for a guided weapon program
for the Air Force. Our motto was "Meet to Death" and we certainly tried
to live up to it. What we discovered about meetings may be of solace to

1. Meetings reflect underlying belief systems of the organization. This
hidden force drives the number, length, efficiency, and importance of
meetings. The best evidence that your system is causing the meetings is
the simultaneous hatred of meetings and fear of not being at them.

2. Meetings are ritualistic which results in selection of form over

3. Meetings are like rabbits, they breed when they are fed. Stop the
feeding cycle and you won't have so many meetings or rabbits. (This in no
way condones the starving of innocent rabbits)

4. Meetings increase in number when you reward people for attending. The
reward can be direct, such as overtime pay, or indirect, such as finding
peer approval.

5. Meetings increase in length when you punish people for attending.
This is generally due to the extra stress and because it takes people
longer when they need to cover their own behinds.

6. Attempts to reduce the number of meetings by limiting attendance
(usually to those with a "need to know") often backfires if those who are
excluded do not trust the motives of the meeting organizer. (see # 1

7. Unless ruthlessly hunted down and destroyed, rumors of a meeting
agenda usually take precedence over the published agenda. This
curcumvents one of the primary methods to control meeting length.

8. While assimilation of data by the boss may require a meeting format,
this is rarely the case for subordinates. However, unless alternatives
are learned, practiced, and supported by the culture, they will never
replace the meeting.

9. Meetings held in rooms without chairs are usually over quickly.

10. Requiring someone else to be at your meeting is usually too easy to

11. You can never learn enough about other people's best practices in
handling meetings.


Lon Badgett

"Why we don't communicate well with each other may well be due to the nature of our evolutionary journey - we just ain't a finished product yet." Emil Gobersneke

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