What is the Opportunity?
Increasing productivity by reducing the number of meetings in the company.
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What is the Internal Need to Be Served?
The employees and the management of the company spend a lot of time in various meetings. These meetings do not always add value to the operations of the company. The need for all these meetings is difficult to justify in some circumstances, especially where it is possible to achieve the same results using other methods. Cutting down on meetings will increase the overall productivity of the company.
Expected Benefits of This Opportunity
This opportunity will lead to four main benefits. First, there will be an increase in productive time spent on other activities. Reducing the time departments spend when discussing issues increases the time available for each member of that department to engage in production. A one-hour meeting for eight people costs the company the equivalent of a full day’s work by one employee.
Secondly, reducing the number of meetings will lead to better prioritization of issues in the remaining meetings. It is impossible to eliminate meetings. If they are turned to briefings, the chairpersons will have to pick out issues of common interest for consideration in the briefings, rather than the full-length agenda that current practices encourage.
The third benefit will be the improvement of other communication processes in the organization, such as the use of email. Since there will be no time in meetings to raise some issues, the members of staff in the company will find other ways of communicating that are not as disruptive as meetings.
The fourth benefit that will accrue from reducing the time spent in meetings is an increase in the time available for innovation and product development. Innovation and product development are the activities that give the company a competitive advantage. Instead of spending a whole hour in a meeting of eight people discussing product problems, the equivalent time can help improve the product by a full eight hours of research and innovation.
Potential Downside Risks and Costs
The three main risks associated with reducing the number of meetings in the company are as follows. First, if the company does not enforce alternative ways of passing on information, there will be information gaps in the organization that may reduce the overall effectiveness in its implementation of the strategy (moderate risk). Secondly, employees who rely on the meetings to share their views on various organizational matters may feel left out in the decision-making process of the organization (high risk). This implies that it will be necessary to find other ways of getting their support for company projects. The third risk is that if the process of prioritizing issues for discussion at the reduced meetings is ineffective, then important issues may fail to get the attention of the people who should address them (moderate risk).
The main cost associated with reducing the number of meetings in the organization is an investment in new communication channels, or revitalizing existing ones to ensure that the organization meets the information needs of all its employees.
Reducing weekly departmental meetings having ten attendants that last for an hour to a briefing session of just fifteen minutes saves the organization seven and a half man-hours. This time is better spent solving problems that will lead to growth such as R&D, marketing, and product development.
Other Details to Consider for this Opportunity
There is a need to develop in a communication policy to ensure that there is a reliable communication system in the organization. The policy should address not just access to communication hardware, but the management of information. This necessitates an audit of the communication needs of all the employees to determine the best avenues for delivering the information, and educing employee participation apart from meetings.