When working with leaders, we are constantly faced with their need for more time. Time to handle change, time to work on things that matter. There is a place to find this time, and that is by working on how to run better meetings.
There’s an expression you probably know. It goes like this: I can’t see the forest for the trees.
It’s a good expression; because it reminds us how important it is not to forget the bigger picture when we look at something. The “something” might be an obstacle right in front of us that without doubt is part of the big picture, but we do not look at it that way.
One of our favorite clients (because he totally understand the concept of constantly evolving his leadership) originally approached us because he was worried that one of his important R&D teams had way too much on their plate. They were still enthusiastic and delivered results most organizations could just hope for. But they were constantly working extremely long hours. And they had done so for years. The team members were worn out, a few even on sick leave. Our client wanted to take action before it was too late. “Smart thinking,” we applauded.
We agreed on running an Assessment Workshop with the R&D team. This is a super effective way to get everyone involved on giving input to form a realistic and quite accurate image of the “current state.” Where is the unused potential? And where exactly does the shoe hurt most?
This team scored high on positive culture, team spirit, and self-motivation. We learned that they operate quite smoothly when it comes to innovation methods and processes, and have a high level of overall strength that most other teams would envy. But it soon became obvious that the point for improvement was related to something as easy – and difficult – as time management.
A major scarcity in most businesses is the lack of time. No wonder, things are changing at a pace we’ve never seen before while demand for efficiency is at an all-time high. If spent right, more time is an asset. It increases the ability to explore and be creative, which is good for the business.
Time management. Yes, we know it can be difficult. But there is one obvious place to start changing things, that way too many leaders forget.
Actually, surprisingly many leaders today do not realize the power they have to change this one little thing in their organization: The way they run meetings.
Starting to run better meetings in your organization is surprisingly easy.
And this was also where we started with the busy R&D team. Looking back, they were surprised they had not done this long ago. They estimated that the time spent in meetings was reduced by about 25 – 30 % after implementing a few changes. Valuable hours they could spend on more important matters.
Running better meetings is all about the two following steps:
- Define a common standard for how the various meetings are held in your organization – and make this part of your team’s culture.
- Implement tools and methods that everyone understands and knows how to use in all phases of the meeting; when planning a meeting, when running a meeting, and after the meeting.
One example of this is to appoint an “owner” of the meeting who are responsible for the meeting in general, and also in charge of pointing out who are responsible for the various tasks on the agenda. In Apple, Kristine’s former employer, accountability at meetings is secured by having a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) whose name appear next to the agenda items they are responsible for. (Fortune.com: How Apple works: Inside the world’s biggest startup).
And the two steps explained above were exactly what the R&D team did: They took the time they needed and together we worked intensely on how they could start running better meetings in a smarter way than before. And voila! The few hours invested had a great return on investment when this was implemented. Suddenly the entire team could start breathing again.
The success formula? Accepting that there is a way of running better meetings, and taking the effort to learn how.
So – what about you?
How effective are your meetings? Are you willing to change some of the things you do (or do not do) today to start running better meetings? Whatever level you’re on – you can ALWAYS be in charge of changing the meetings you arrange. You just need to decide that it is on YOUR agenda to run better meetings.