Meetings are not in and of themselves problematic. Meetings are essential to teams and organizational democracy, inclusion, participation, buy-in, communication, attachment, teamwork, coordination, and cohesion would all be compromised. What we need to rid ourselves of are bad meetings, wasted time in meetings, and unnecessary meetings. This book is about solving these problems.
Meetings consume massive amounts of individual and organizational time, with a recent estimate suggesting there are fifty-five million meetings a day in the United States alone. The costs of this meeting time are staggering when weighted with the average salary data of attendees. It is estimated that the annual cost of meetings in Unites States is whopping $1.4 trillion - or 8.2 percent of the 2014 US GDP. Furthermore, this tremendous time investment yields only modest returns. “Too many meetings” was the number one time-waster at the office, cited by 47 percent of 3,164 workers in a study conducted by Salary.com focused on workplace time drains. Translate this into dollars, one reasonable estimate is that over 4250 dollar a year is wasted by having too many bad meetings. And these estimates do not include the indirect costs of bad meetings (e.g,. Employee frustration and strain).
Sadly, most companies and most leaders view poor meetings as inevitable because they don’t know of better ways or they try new methods that don’t stick, as they really are not founded in any scientific evidence of success. Also, bad meetings beget more bad meetings as dysfunctional practices become normative across the organization. Taken together, poor meetings become accepted as a way of life and a natural cost of doing business, like rain is a way of life in London. But, unlike the weather, meetings can indeed be improved.
Drawing on over fifteen years of original research I have conducted on the topic of meetings with my team, surveying and interviewing thousands of employees from hundreds of organizations, as well as drawing from a large number of evidence-based sources, my goal with this book is to translate the science of meetings to bring direction, guidance, and relief to those leading and participating in meetings. While many people I meet are surprised to hear that there are social and organizational scientists who study meetings, this research has produced large numbers of scientific publications, conference presentations, book chapters, dissertations, and extensive media coverage. And, of most relevance here, this science has produced insights and practical applications that can directly benefit executives and organizations by promoting efficiency, productivity, increased innovation and employee engagement, superior decisions, enhanced commitment to initiatives, better communication, and a greater sense of camaraderie across the workforce.