The Path of Least Action

“Can you put a meeting on my calendar before that other meeting so that we can hammer out what we’re going to talk about? “Sure, but I think we need a pre-meeting.” “You’re right, let’s get both of those on the calendar.”

We’ve all done it, but 2015 is going to be the year we give it up. We’re all going to stop having unnecessary meetings that only make us feel like we’re actually getting things done.

Simply put: make every effort to deliver your company’s products and services with as little interference to your employees day-to-day work as possible. Doing so eliminates waste, saves both time and money, and improves team morale. This may sound obvious, but think of how much time is wasted due to well-meaning management.

Meetings are the Devil

First, let me define precisely what I mean by “meeting.”

Meeting: A mandatory gathering of on-the-clock, paid employees where work is discussed but not done, and where the things discussed are of little to no immediate value to most of the people in attendance.

Meetings often have no agenda, start late, run long, no notes are taken (let alone distributed) and often require follow-up meetings. They waste people’s time and have negative effects on productivity, profitability and team morale.

If you or your management feels you must have meetings, schedule them as “time to make yourself available” rather than require attendance.

Identify Roles and Responsibilities

You probably didn’t hire people to sit in meetings. You hire them to perform specific tasks. Knowing what someone is expected to do will help you monitor if they can do it, are doing it, or are prevented from doing it.

If they’re not doing what’s expected, you’ve just identified an opportunity for improvement.

Workflow as Data Collection

To the greatest extent possible, you should collect team performance data as part of their day to day workflow, NOT make them complete reports as a separate task. A few examples include:

  • Track time in your task management tool
  • Get project status out of the actual project management tool (i.e. Rally, VersionOne, Jira)
  • Automatically filter data for status reports by audience

Identify the Wrong Tools

Every day there are more software options available to choose from. I can’t tell you what you need, but I can tell you the hallmarks of a bad tool or suite of tools. The wrong set of tools:

  • Require redundant manual data entry or manual “massaging” of data
  • Do not facilitate team collaboration
  • Cannot automate common tasks
  • Make it hard to find the information you, your team or your boss need
  • Are only used in or for meetings
  • Distract people from the work they were hired to do

High Morale Gets Results

Demonstrate to your team that you want them to do great work and you’ll be amazed at what they can accomplish. We’re always looking for ways to make our work better though tools, processes, reporting and ideas. We’d love to hear what you use. Shoot us a note and let us know.