A cost center for most organizations is meetings. This is true even though most companies don’t track it as such. Consider the true cost of meetings. First and fundamentally, if you simply calculate the cost / hour of your key team members in terms of compensation, and multiply that times a conservative number that represents hours spent in meetings, the price tag will shock you. Then, if you consider the soft costs of meetings, which include lost productivity (as most meetings have significant dead time), decreased morale (as most meetings frustrate versus excite), depleted energy (as most meetings deplete versus replenish), and group think (as most meetings stall decisions and take great ideas into hostage).
Let’s play with this for a moment. If we ban these types of traditional meetings from our organization and replace them with something more powerful, communicative, collaborative, engaging, and innovative, what would that look like? How do you create that within your organization? What is the first step to take?
Very simply, most companies don’t practice the fundamentals of effective meetings like agendas, requiring timeliness, stating the goal of the meeting, and facilitating brainstorming. People attend unprepared, and typically with low energy from the onset.
Thus, as a meeting facilitator, a few easy steps are to simply shore up these areas. To create buy-in and engagement at the beginning of the meeting by talking about the goal and why it’s important. By helping people to see what’s in it for them, and to create an environment where people take risks with their input, their creativity, and candor.
What if you scheduled a “brilliance session” or “gathering of geniuses” instead of a meeting? What if you include a motivational quote on the agenda? Start every meeting having someone read the vision and key goals out loud with zest? Rotate facilitators? End every meeting by celebrating the zaniest idea? Summarizing the result and having everyone verbally grade the flow and effectiveness of the meeting?
Sound hokey? Maybe. But, more importantly, would you get a better result? Most definitely. The way a company “meets” has a lot to communicate about it’s culture. Changing a culture happens in step changes and shifts of energy that than become the “new way.” There are many ideas that shift people’s energy, and thus, their results. The limit if your imagination and willingness to take a risk.