In the early years of my career I seemed to spend all my days in meetings, one after the other from nine to five. In general a lot was said, but all too often I found that too little was achieved, with the resultant verbatim Minutes document a poor substitute for the actual minutes lost along the way.
The potential people-hour cost of meetings has been noted elsewhere, with Harvard Business Review estimating recently that one company’s weekly meeting was taking up 300,000 people-hours per year!
This frittering of time always bothered me, with so much time spent merely meeting people, most of whom we probably already knew! That is why in 2009, when I was in a more senior position, I implemented a seismic change in my company’s working culture, transitioning from Meetings to Do-ings.
While this may appear to be a basic change in company lexicon, it actually had a profound effect on the daily productivity of the business. Suddenly the focus was on what would be done, as opposed to who would be there. Where previously we were emphasizing the communal aspect, we were now all about what would be achieved while we were together.
This cultural change organically developed, altering the whole Do-ing occasion within the business. Where previously we received meeting invites, we started receiving Do-vites. Conference calls became Done-ference calls, and Minutes became Done-things. With each definitional change, we saw a boost in our KPIs, from employee productivity to operating margin.
While we do still spend lots of time together discussing things as a team, we are no longer wishing the time away. So perhaps next time you find yourself confronted with a directionless meeting agenda, you might move your focus from Meeting to Doing.