Business leaders could spend weeks digging into their company’s processes, systems, and procedures to find the roots of ineffectiveness. Or they could just attend one of their own meetings.
The functionality, or dysfunctionality, of company meetings is often a pretty good indicator of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of an organization. Sure, even the best companies run some crummy meetings from time to time. People have bad days, and so do organizations.
But when meetings are repeatedly taking a lot of time but producing little in the way of results that you can tie back to them, then you’ve got a problem that can prevent true enterprise transformation. Trouble is, that problem is not as easy to spot as you might think. Your meetings can become part of your routine, something resistant to change. Something you do without ever wondering why or evaluating for effectiveness.
To change that, take this quick checklist to your next meeting:
Did your meeting have a clear agenda — or an agenda at all? This is different than a topic of discussion. An agenda outlines the meeting’s objectives. It explains who will attend, who will speak, and what the expected outcome of the meeting is.
How much of the meeting was spent on opinions, explanations, descriptions, or updates of ongoing work? Long meetings are particularly susceptible to becoming weather reports and chat sessions. But even short meetings can fall prey to people explaining and opining, and therefore neglecting to set a clear course of action before the meeting you’ll be in next week.
Were the right people — decision makers — in the meetings? And were decisions made? At Apple they call this person the DRI, or the “Directly Responsible Individual.” It is the person who is tasked with overseeing an actionable item that is addressed during the meeting. Not every company needs a DRI, but every meeting does need someone who can make decisions that prompt action once the group leaves the conference room and gets back to work.
Now ask yourself: Was the meeting worth our time or a waste of time?