If you could delete any meeting from your calendar, which one would it be?

Let’s face it: most of us have too many meetings on our calendars. And few things are a bigger waste of time than recurring meetings that no longer provide any value to attendees (or the business). In fact, the average worker feels a full 50% of their meetings are wasted time! No wonder we spend meetings daydreaming, doing other work... even sleeping.

But wait. It gets worse.

If you add up all those wasted minutes and factor in attendees' salaries, pointless meetings cost businesses $37 billion annually in the U.S. alone! Yes: that's "billion" with a B. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of viewing meetings as the one and only way to collaborate. That knee-jerk tendency is what gets us into trouble and what gives meetings a bad name. If your calendar is packed with back-to-back meetings and you're feeling overwhelmed AF, give yourself permission to reassess whether all those meetings are really necessary. This little flowchart should help. 

Meeting-Flowchart-Update-Final (1).png

(If you want to share or print this flowchart, download the high-res PDF version here.)

Some types of meetings are legit, others aren’t. Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information. That’s what email, chat, and company intranets (like Confluence) are for.

In the best case scenario, a meeting’s purpose is to make a decision or create something collaboratively. Project planning, mapping out customer journeys, setting goals, solving a problem, choosing X vs. Y… all these are situations where holding a meeting is probably the most effective way to get it done.

At the very least, a meeting should center on a discussion that will be more effective in real-time than asynchronously via emails or comment threads – team or project retrospectives, brainstorming, and 1-on-1 meetings between managers and their direct reports, etc.

So... which meetings do you think add value? What are some meetings you'd like to send into a black hole, never to return? Let's discuss!

4 comments

This flowchart is amazing!

Thanks! It literally started as a bunch of post-it notes on my kitchen table ;-)

Fadoua Boualem Community Champion Oct 08, 2018

Going back to your question @Sarah Goff-Dupont I will eliminate the Daily Scrum until the team understands that the 15 minutes are to talk about blockers or issues than accomplishments.

Interesting! I wasn't expecting stand-ups to be on anyone's list. 

I am not against them, at least I will say my team doesn't seem getting the fact that we should talk about problems not accomplishments. Being there and listening to what they did when I can see it directly on the board doesn't make any sense to me.

Totally get it. 

Jack Brickey Community Champion Oct 09, 2018

In my experience, it can take a lot of effort and training to change how a development team works. Moving from more of a waterfall model can be a challenging task. Ultimately the scrum master has to manage thru this and establish an environment, a cadence and ultimately a culture. My experience has also shown that once the culture is changed almost everyone appreciates the effectiveness of, and the brevity of, the shorter meetings.

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Thursday

@Fadoua Boualem - I'm 100% with you. Our team's daily meeting keeps growing in time, and people are not focused on blockers. My function is not to herd the cats in that meeting, but I've expressed my concerns and that's all you can do sometimes

 

/shrug

Fadoua Boualem Community Champion Thursday

@Meg HolbrookI didn't attend them for the past two weeks. Until Development team learns what stand ups are for.

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Thursday

@Fadoua Boualem - you're so feisty. I love it. 

Fadoua Boualem Community Champion Thursday

@Meg HolbrookI may start looking for a job soon 😂 😂

Davin Studer Community Champion Oct 09, 2018

Lunch .... get's in the way of me getting things done.

#facepalm 😉

Meg Holbrook Community Champion Thursday

@Davin Studer - I was just having this conversation with my director the other day. hahahaha

carolyn french Community Champion Oct 10, 2018

The flowchart is a fun way to look at it. But sadly, donuts never factor in. It's been too long since I've had a food-involved meeting. I think I need more meetings in my life, donut meetings, they add a lot of value... 

I'm wondering why some of the end points in the flowchart are 'no meeting', but still have green check boxes?

When working remotely, I see more value in regular meetings than when I'm interacting with everyone around an office daily. There's a lot of great advice in the Trello's How to Embrace Remote Work for when to do a video call vs chat, and many times a video call classifies as a meeting while a chat is ongoing. Also, Trello recognizes the importance of getting a team to gel. Sometimes, you need meetings to get to know your colleagues better (pg 13). :)

The Trello guide is great. I'm a full-time remote worker, and I totally agree with the value of talking live, esp when you can see each other's faces. The 5-min impromptu video chat is my jam! So many times when a mini-meeting or two removes whatever roadblock I'm facing, and prevents a full-blown scheduled meeting. 

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