Too much time wasted in meetings. Why?
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Too much time wasted in meetings. Why?

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  • Know Thy Time "Know thyself," the old prescription for wisdom, is almost impossibly difficult for mortal men. But everyone can follow the injunction "Know thy time" if one wants to, and be well on the road toward effectiveness. Meetings in America Few rituals in working America are as hallowed as the periodic staff meeting.
  • Irrelevant Boring Non-motivating
  • Awareness The highest-level managers were not aware of the problem when the merge was created. The problem started when the group got larger (three times the number of the initial employee headcount) Problem : Feature teams don’t have an effective way to communicate about the project they work on collaboratively. Most effective that's available are still meetings, but are not effective enough, and because there are so many, it's cutting into productivity. Lower Productivity more time spent in meetings, less time doing actual work people work longer hours without necessarily accomplishing more
  • Evil, because it's too much. And not relevant. Instead of being useful and efficient, they became a routine people start to avoid.
  • In order to analyze our case study we introduce the ‘Meeting Traps’ model. This model provides a framework to examine “Why meetings fail” Three Factors Leadership: Lack of support, consistency of direction, vision, budget, and resources. Focus: Lack of clarity about team purposes, roles, strategy, and goals. Capability: Lack of critical skill sets, knowledge, ongoing learning, and development.
  • 1. Can a one-on-one conversation accomplish what needs to be done? Even if you require a one-on-two conversation, a conference call can be planned instead of a face-to-face meeting. This can save time and be more cost-effective. 2. Is there a planned agenda? Without an agenda, the purpose of the meeting is vague. 3. Is there a reason to meet other than the fact that your group has a set, regular, once-a-week mandatory meeting? Consider whether it is still necessary. Although fixed times are set in advance, managers can decide to skip a session if matters can be handled with a memo or a phone call.
  • 1. Agendas help determine if a meeting is truly necessary – By listing out what needs to be done, a leader is able to better analyze the pay off of using a teams productive time for group communications. 2. Agendas ensure progress – Read 3! 3. They are the pathway to meeting objectives – They set out a list of activities that ‘need’ to be done. Too often meeting discussions result in side conversations leading to ‘fuzzy’ meeting results. Agendas keep people on track and provide notable points a group may be directed through.. *Essentially Agendas are a leaders method to providing ‘focus’. More on the importance of ‘focus’ will be discussed later by Simona.
  • Decide who needs to attend – 2/3 rule!
  • The importance of Participants will be elaborated on by Phil quite shortly.
  • The "expert" rule: people who have the most knowledge about a meeting issue/topic or who “own” the issue are not always present in the meeting Ownership of the issue is not always clear Commitment: people are committed to their work, but often lose interest in meetings
  • Disruptive behavior or conflict cannot be ignored - it must be managed. Studies show that a meeting leader who knows how to identify and diffuse disruptive behavior can save valuable meeting time and improve the relationship with meeting attendees.
  • Disruptive behavior or conflict cannot be ignored - it must be managed.
  • A humorous commentary discusses meeting, stating that important decision making occurs no later than 2/3 into a meeting. The length of time of a meeting is directly proportional to the square of the number of attendees.
  • Results of a study released by the 3M Meeting Management Institute indicate that people who have the most knowledge about an issue may exert greater influence than those who have the most power.
  • Results of a study released by the 3M Meeting Management Institute indicate that people who have the most knowledge about an issue may exert greater influence than those who have the most power.
  • Committed to their work, but lose interest in meetings if decisions are delayed indefinitely and stop coming/come late.
  • Lack of clarity in the design phase meetings (design specification). These are not only brainstorming meetings. They have to have objectives, but they often go off track. Is it also: - a communication problem (engineers with ESL or pure semantic issues) - the design itself is very complex and not clearly communicated From here: the need for a more rigorous, more standardized design process. However, the Architect has some autonomy in design. Because you need to let people have their freedom in design, so they can express their creativity and let brilliant ideas emerge. But that creativity backfires a lot of times, because it hinders a smooth integration.
  • Eliminate ambiguity : use modeling tools and leave English out of this as much as possible – this is a communication issue. Either engineers with ESL or pure semantic issues (sentences in can be confusing, especially on how the product should behave; that leaves room for interpretation). knowledge repository: Because of the info overload, Software Engineers ignore the phones and the emails, so they need to be motivated to consult an easy-to-use knowledge repository of some sort.

Too much time wasted in meetings. Why? Too much time wasted in meetings. Why? Presentation Transcript

  • Too much time wasted in meetings. Why? A Microsoft Division Case Study Phillip Endicott, Simona Lazar, Tristan Ford IMT 580, iSchool, Winter 2006
  • Introduction
    • “ Know Thy Time.” (Peter Drucker)
    • In previous research, Software Engineers complained they never have time for what they want to accomplish.
    • Top ranking reason? Too much time spent in meetings.
  • Oh, those meetings…
  • Stats and Surveys
    • “ Meetings rank among the most inefficient exercises American perform.” (Seattle PI)
    • Typical weekly staff meeting: 50 minutes (16 could be saved if inefficiencies are eliminated)
    • Lack of output:
      • 59% of surveyed people don't take minutes in meetings
      • 56% said action items are never/rarely documented
      • 68% said input from discussions is used only sometimes/rarely when implementing action items
    Source: PI article: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1315AP_Watercooler.html
  • Case Study: Overview of MS division
    • Sudden awareness of big problem! Too much time spent in meetings
    • Most affected: Lower-level managers
      • Number of meetings per week = 12-14
      • Hours spent in meetings per week = 20-24
    • Meetings are the ONLY effective tool available for:
      • downward communication AND
      • lateral communication (between feature teams)
    • BUT meetings take time from production =>
      • low productivity
  • Meetings: Still a Necessary Evil
    • Meetings ARE unproductive sometimes.
    • However… decision-making discussions often demand face-to-face interaction
    • Solutions?
      • NOT: cut meeting time
      • NOT: have more meetings
      • HOT: make meetings more effective. How?
  • Framework: Meeting Traps Adapted from Steven R Rayner, “Team Traps: What They Are, How To Avoid Them”. National Productivity Review (1986-1998). New York: Summer 1996. Vol. 15, Iss. 3; p. 101. 1. Lack of an Agenda 2. Inadequate Reporting 3. Poor Planning 1. Disruptive behavior 2. Delayed decision-making 3. Lack of clear objectives 1. Lack of knowledge in conducting meetings 2. Meetings held without key people in attendance 3. Participants come unprepared Leadership Capabilities Focus
  • Leadership
    • Charismatic, yes. Leader, no!
  • Leadership
    • Problems at MS division
      • Lack of an Agenda
      • Inadequate Reporting
      • Poor Planning
    • Possible Solutions
      • Plan, plan, plan!
      • Create and Use an Agenda
      • Assign Roles
  • Leadership: Plan, plan, plan!
    • Questions to Ask When Planning a Meeting
      • Is another medium of communication more suitable?
      • Is there a planned agenda?
      • Is there actually a need to meet?
    Zyry, Patrice. “Effective meetings – to meet or not to meet: That is the question.” Nephrology Nursing Journal . 27.1 (2000): 76.
  • Leadership: Using Agendas
    • Why Use an Agenda?
      • Agendas help determine if a meeting is truly necessary
      • Agendas ensure progress
      • Agendas are the pathway to meeting team objectives
    Hagerty, Patricia J. “Effective Meetings.” Journal of Reading . 33.5 (1990): 384.
  • Leadership: Creating an Agenda
    • The ‘To Do’ List When Creating An Agenda
      • Decide on the purpose and outcomes of the meeting.
      • Decide who needs to attend.
      • Decide where to hold the meeting.
      • Decide which roles will be filled and who will fill them before the meeting.
  • Leadership: Assigning Roles
    • The 3 Key Roles and Responsibilities
      • The Moderator (or chairperson)
        • Directs and ‘controls’ the meeting
      • The Recorder
        • Documents and publishes decisions, commitments, and action plans
      • The Participants
        • Responsible for participating, not just attending
    Jessup, Harlan. “A quantum formula for improving meetings.” The Journal for Quality and Participation . 17.3 (1994): 80-82.
  • Capabilities
  • Capabilities: Overview
    • Problems at MS division
      • Lack of knowledge in conducting meetings
      • Meetings held without key people in attendance
      • Participants come unprepared
    • Possible Solutions
      • Provide training on how to conduct meetings
      • Right mix of composition and information
      • Provide motivation in meetings
  • Capabilities: Composition
    • Composition/Data and Information
      • Employee knowledge of meeting topic
      • Employee skills
      • Relevant information and research data
  • Capabilities: Training
    • Training/Tacit Skill
      • Cross-training for core competencies
      • Motivation
      • Organization
      • Interpersonal relations
  • Capabilities: Motivation
    • Motivation in meetings
      • Seen as useful
      • Organized
      • Participation
      • Appropriate for project
      • Results
  • Capabilities: Culture
    • Organizational Culture at MS
      • Philosophy
      • Structure
      • Systems
      • Policies
      • Employee Skills
  • Focus
  • Focus: Overview
    • Problems at MS division
      • Disruptive behavior
      • Delayed decision making
      • Lack of clear objectives
    • Possible Solutions
      • Have the “experts” of the subject in the meeting
      • Assign clear ownership
      • Have people commit
  • Focus: Meeting Disrupters
    • Disruptive behavior
    Source: Managing Meeting Disrupters. Osburn, Denise.  Manage   Dayton:May 1991.  Vol. 42,  Iss. 4,  p. 8 (3 pp.)
  • Focus: Meeting Disrupters: Case study
    • Non-stop talkers want to impress
    • Outspoken people derail the meeting
    • Shy people never get to talk
    • Intergroup competition is fierce
    Source:
  • Focus: Delayed Decision-Making
    • First Law of Meetings (Lovelace, Herbert)
      • T=k *P 2 , where T = time; P = number of people in the meeting; and k is a constant that varies with the company culture
      • 10-minute conversation between 2 people takes 1-1/2 hours with 6 people in the meeting
    • Second Law of Meetings
      • All important decision-making occurs no later than two-thirds into the meeting.
  • Focus: Delayed Decision-Making
    • Decisions are delayed
    • Decisions are not relevant to topic
    • 3M Meeting Management Institute study shows that people sometimes leave meetings unclear about:
      • decisions reached
      • actions to be taken
    Source: Group Decision Making . Johnson, Virginia.  Successful Meetings   New York: Jun 1991.  Vol. 40,  Iss. 7,  p. 76.
  • Focus: Delayed Decision-Making
    • Same study shows that group bases decision-making in meetings on:
      • The "expert" rule (most often): people who have the most knowledge about an issue
      • Commitment: decision based on the views of people who showed greatest care for or investment in proposal
  • Focus: Decision-Making: Case Study
    • The "expert" rule: people who have the most knowledge about a meeting issue/topic or who “own” the issue are not always present in the meeting
    • Ownership of the issue is not always clear
    • Commitment: people are committed to their work, but lose interest in meetings
  • Focus: Lack of Clear Objectives
  • Analysis and Recommendations
    • Transfer of information
      • Problem Solving Meetings
      • Quality Meetings
      • Transitional Meetings
      • Motivational Meetings
      • Status Meetings
    • Face-to-face meetings
      • Forum for technical explanations
      • Dialogue
      • Human interaction
      • Creative sandbox
  • Analysis and Recommendations
    • Meeting Traits at Microsoft Division
        • Pressure from unfinished work
        • Lack of goals
        • Boredom
        • Burnout
        • Lack of enthusiasm/motivation
        • Failure to reach decisions
        • Dominance by one or two people
        • Conflict
        • Lack of constructive disagreement
  • Analysis and Recommendations
    • Leadership: Planning, agenda, assigned roles
    • Capability: People to come better prepared
    • Capability: Competent people to discuss agenda
    • Focus: Clear objectives
    • Focus: Revamp the design/requirements process:
      • make it clear; structure it
      • eliminate ambiguity: use modeling tools
    • Leadership: Formal reporting back to team
    • ALSO: Benchmarking
      • knowledge repository for meeting output
      • better feature integration tools and processes
  • Analysis and Recommendations
    • Recap: Effective Face-to-Face Meetings
      • Goal/Outcomes/Agenda
          • Moderator
          • Recorder
          • Participants
      • Define Meeting Type: problem solving, info sharing, data gathering, decision-making.
      • Define discussion, decisions, and action items
  • Discussion:
    • We’ve got 5 minutes… lets here those deep thoughts!
    • Some things to think about:
      • What solutions do you think will have the most influence?
      • Can ‘fixes’ like using formal agendas and having clear objectives counter-act a culture where unproductive meetings are the norm?
      • Our team limited the scope of our analysis to meetings of a MS division. In reality this is a much bigger problem of which unproductive meetings are but a symptom. From the information you’ve been provided let’s extrapolate about the high-level communication issues that may exist?
  • References
    • Bodwell, Donald J. “High Performance Team Essential Elements” http:// rampagesonramp.net/~bodwell/hpt_eelm.htm (1996, 1999):.
    • Decker, Philip, J. “Characteristics of an Effective Team.” (PowerPoint Presentation) http://www.cl.uh.edu/bpa/hadm/HADM_5731/ppt_presentations/29teams/sld006.htm (1996):.
    • Hagerty, Patricia J. “Effective Meetings.” Journal of Reading . 33.5 (1990): 384.
    • Jessup, Harlan. “A quantum formula for improving meetings.” The Journal for Quality and Participation . 17.3 (1994): 80-82.
    • Johnson, Virginia. “Group Decision Making.” Successful Meetings   40.7 (1991): 76.
    • Lovelace, Herbert W . “No decision before its time.” Information Week   607 (1996): 136. 
    • Osburn, Denise. “Managing Meeting Disrupters.”   Manage.   42.4 (1991): 8.
    • Tobia, Peter M.,  Becker, Martin C.. “Making the Most of Meeting Time.” Training and Development Journal . 44.8 (1990): 34.
    • Tuckman, B.W. “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups.” Psychological Bulletin . 63. (1965): 384-399.
    • Zyry, Patrice. “Effective meetings – to meet or not to meet: That is the question.” Nephrology Nursing Journal . 27.1 (2000): 76.