Meetings are great, we resolve problems, we decide things and in general, we are able to interact with other people in meetings. We need meetings. The problem is, at least for me, I have far too many meetings and some of them are not that productive. You could say that I lose valuable time due to the pure quantity of meetings.
The quantity and inefficiency of meetings are one of the biggest productivity problems for most organizations today.
However, by now many of you know me, I am a problem solver, if something is bothering me or in any way blocking me from performing the way I have to I do not just shrug my shoulders and say “too bad”, I do something about it. Some years ago for the first time I did a serious attempt of making the meeting circus more efficient, let us call it a form of meeting inquisition; I used the great powers of the RACI matrix.
I would like to share this simple method of clearing out many meetings from people’s calendars and make meetings more efficient.
Many of you are probably familiar with the RACI-matrix but some of you are not, and the rest of us can always use a short repetition. Remember that repetition is the mother, father, brother and evil cousin of all knowledge.
- Responsible – The person(s) responsible for the execution of an activity/process/etc
- Accountable – The person (only one) owning the result of the execution of an activity/process/etc
- Consult – The person(s) having knowledge needed for the execution of an activity/process/etc
- Inform – The person(s) interested in the result in the execution of an activity/process/etc, thus wanting information
Please bear with me, as I want to give you an example of how I used this model.
A few years back I entered a new manager role and of course I inherited many things from my predecessor, besides various reports, tasks and much more, I also inherited a rather large number of recurrent meetings, most of them weekly. I soon realized that I had about 25% meeting free time, just considering all the recurrent meetings. This was of course a big problem. However, before I could do anything I had to get to know all these meetings so I started things as I always do, with an open mind and I was of course prepared. I enter the first meeting and there are more than 30 people in the room, most of them managers from different departments and higher up in the organization. We did a quick round-table presentation and then I asked everyone for a favor, I said, “just for me to understand what we all are doing in this meeting”, and I started to draw a RACI matrix for this particular meeting. I briefly explained the letters and then asked everyone to write their names, on the whiteboard, in the matrix and select which one of the letters they thought was related to their presence in this meeting. You can probably guess the result. About 25 of the people wrote an “I”, some of the I:s added a “C” that we could remove after me asking them some questions. I was left with about 6-7 people that were actually needed in this meeting, so I simply asked all the 25 to leave the meeting and told them I would send them the meeting minutes later the same day. Some of them really did not want to leave the meeting, there were some bad words spoken but after a short skirmish, they all left.
After a few weeks, some of the managers also had their vengeance on me, since I was an “I” in their meeting. I was not crushed, rather very relieved since I suddenly had cleared out about 15 hours of recurrent weekly meeting time.
More than that, the meetings was so much faster because there were no endless discussions with people, not being part of the decision making nor with knowledge needed, interfering, only the relevant people was present.
Do not get me wrong, meetings are important, but we need to make sure that we keep our meetings relevant and only with the people needed present. I bet you can free up 45-50% of your meeting time if you set the RACI-powers free also on your organizational life, try it, it might just make you twice as productive.