I’m sure the concept of pointless meetings is familiar – too many people gathered to discuss some issue but after spending hours together no decision has been reached – only the next meeting with a few more people. Here’s one tool which might help a little.
I should begin by noticing that the idea is not my own – it has been as far as I know been used before. I came across it at the Copenhagen Business School where one of the teachers in Organization told about it (and credited it to Søren T. Lyngsøe A/S).
The idea is called the meeting clock and it’s quite simple (just as so many excellent ideas are). The clock doesn’t tell time, it shows how much the meeting cost.
Every time you start a meeting you tell how many people are present, and from an qualified average wage guess, the clock ticks away every second counting the meeting fee. The clock should have large letters, be placed where (if possible) all participants can see it and could even make a little tick every time you spend a hundred Euros.
Once the meeting has ended, the total meeting cost could even be kept in the project budget in a meeting account – as a reminder that meetings are not for free.
If you really want to add pressure to the meeting, the clock could probably be refined a little – adding a few more categories of participants: managers, (external) consultants, experts and so on – their hourly costs is probably somewhat higher than the average employee.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against meetings as such. What I basically is against is pointless, unprepared meetings without any set meeting decision agenda and with too many participants.
If you invite people to a meeting – only ask those you need, prepare for the meeting tell them why the meeting is called and remember to make decisions.