top of page

Dear Committee chair...

Research findings from Bain & Company published in the 2014 Harvard Business Review suggests that 15% of an organization’s time is spent in meetings. The research also found that this percentage that has increased every year since 2008! One weekly executive meeting reportedly required 300,000 hours of collective time a year. The ripple effect graphic they created is gotta check it out.

Found this in my journal from earlier this year...

Reflections after a meeting this semester. I made notes as if I was writing to the chair of the committee.

Dear Committee Chair,

As I sat in our meeting today, I realized I wanted two conflicting things: to be left alone and to be part of something great. Maybe many of us in meetings feel that way.

As the chairperson, I think you should know what you are dealing with. These two forces are not to be taken lightly. They totally oppose one another. I think everyone experiences them. And you, dear chairperson, have to deal with that.

Leave me alone

I don't want to be here. I have important work to do (or I like to think this is true). Or at least I just want to be alone. Or maybe I feel like I don't belong here. I keep looking for reasons to check-out, check my phone, check the clock, check my pulse. I don't want more commitments, more work, more pressure, more demands on my time.

Invite me into something greater

I come to work to change the world. I want to work on big problems and make a big difference. If you show me I can trust the vision and your leadership. If you invite me in something greater. I just might.

So you see, dear chairperson, we all don't want meetings but we want meanings. We want you to include us and leave us alone all at once.

Maybe "leave me alone" is a small flair sent up by a soul yearning for meaning. I hope you see it. It may come across as a snarky comment where I hope to look smart. Or it may come as a well-rehearsed smile and mask of support.

Many of us don't like meetings. But I don't think it's because we don't need them. I just think it's because most are so poorly organized and managed. And I don't think most chairpeople understand the tightrope walk between these two sides of the psyche. Meetings are actually a brief staging of the great human drama, the battle between gravity dragging us down and inspiration raising us up.


Death by Meeting? Tips for Meetings

Patrick Lencioni, author of the best-selling book Death by Meeting offers insights on how to make meetings more productive and less painful. Text below is from Lencioni's The Table Group website

"1. Know the purpose of your meeting. Is it about solving a tactical, short-term problem, or a critical strategic issue? Are participants meant to brainstorm, debate, offer alternatives, or just sit and listen? Don't let your meeting devolve into a combination of all of these, leaving people confused about what is going on and what is expected of them.

2. Clarify what is at stake. Do participants understand the price of having a bad meeting? Do they know what could go wrong if bad decisions are made? If not, why should they care?

3. Hook them from the outset. Have you thought about the first 10 minutes of your meeting and how you're going to get people engaged? If you don't tee up your topic and dramatize why it matters, you might as well invite participants to check-out.

4. Set aside enough time. Are you going to be tempted to end the meeting before resolution has been achieved? Contrary to popular wisdom, the mark of a great meeting is not how short it is, or whether it ends on time. The key is whether it ends with clarity and commitment from participants.

5. Provoke conflict. Are your people uncomfortable during meetings and tired at the end? If not, they're probably not mixing it up enough and getting to the bottom of important issues. Conflict shouldn't be personal, but it should be ideologically emotional. Seek out opposing views and ensure that they are completely aired.

These five tips alone can improve the quality of our meetings, both in terms of the experience itself as well as the outcome. And considering the almost universal lethargy and disdain for meetings, they can transform what is now considered a painful problem into a competitive advantage."

bottom of page