Research shows that 15 percent of an organization’s time is spent in meetings – a percentage that has increased every year since 2008. Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel, once wrote, “Just as you would not permit a fellow employee to steal a piece of office equipment, you shouldn’t let anyone walk away with [their] time.”
Organizations in general are reckless about how they invest their scarcest resource, the time of their people. Michael C. Mankins, a partner at Bain & Company, recently studied the meeting habits of a large company and discovered what him and his colleagues describe as a ripple effect caused by single meetings:
Time is an organization’s scarcest – and most often squandered – resource. To demonstrate how poorly most organizations manage this precious commodity, we used data-mining tools to analyze the Outlook schedules of everyone in a large company. What follows is real data from that company and how its weekly excom meeting rippled throughout the organization in a profoundly disturbing way.
1 weekly excom meeting accounts for 7,000 hours a year. At the excom meeting senior-level staff provide updates on all phases of the business. It uses 7,000 person hours of executives’ times annually. To prepare for this meeting, individual excom members need to meet with unit chiefs….people [at the company] spent 300,000 hours a year just supporting the weekly executive committee meeting
The number of people at a meeting can exponentially depletes the company’s time. For example, five people in a one hour meeting isn’t one hour lost. Rather, it’s five hours lost (plus the combined time it took to prepare for that meeting). So before you schedule your next meeting, think long and hard about time is being spent for the desired level of output.