Has your organisation become addicted to meetings? Do more of your meetings frustrate or bore you? Has meeting attendance become a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘want to’?

In almost every commercial environment there is more to do, more to read, more to think about. A wider range of issues or information to understand, learn, discuss, create, and yet more and more of your schedule is filling with meetings that leave you more frustrated and constantly ‘on’.

Meetings serve a brilliant purpose – connection; sharing; collaboration; inclusivity; idea generation; inspiration; focusing; problem solving; the list can go on. The word ‘meeting’ has become something of a catch all to describe any coming together of colleagues, subsequently the best events get besmirched as our association with them all gets clouded. Are they ‘town hall’ downloads? Are they ‘insight-gatherers’? In any case, with several companies I have worked with, I observe how the following aspects have got fogged up:

·        Purpose – why are we meeting (from the list above)?

·        Intention – what impact do we seek, outcomes do we hope for?

·        Involvement – who has something to add or challenge?

·        Timing – what is the shortest time required?

When one or more of these essentials is weak, attitudes change in relation to the potential power that any meeting can have. The potency is lost or becomes questioned, expectations drop, involvement becomes routine and passive – impact is minimal. And the times in a day when we might be at our creative and thinking best gets blocked.

Yet teams perpetuate the habit, perhaps because “it’s what’s we do here” or because leaders think it is what they should do.

Apple’s Steve Jobs famously asked colleagues to leave his meetings if they had nothing to contribute. I also recall a CEO asserting that the ideal meeting has three participants, with one missing (responsibility is shared, decisions are empowered and fast)!

Could now be the time for you and your colleagues to look again at your meeting culture and make the change? Nothing changes until something changes!

Wholesale change may be a step too far initially but start the process of change anyway – this could be an important part of the journey to shift attitudes, increase positivity and productivity. There are many ways you could cause a pattern interruption to the meeting-addiction culture. I challenge you to consider the four questions above – are you being specific enough in your responses and thoughts in relation to them and your meetings? Can you do things differently to increase the impact? Maybe you need to move away from even using the catch all term ‘meeting’ or can simply reduce attendance and frequency.

It’s time to make better use of your valuable thinking time and boost both the respect and performance at the reduced and efficient meetings you then have. Time to create your best impact.

As always, keep it simple and good luck.