*** Other Literature
Now I have a stack
of other stuff that may have some value. I'm going to start in no particular
order and skim aggressively.
Making meetings more successful: plans, formats, and procedures for group
problem-solving. Journal of Business
It gives us an
estimate that between 7 and 15 percent of personnel budgets are dedicated to
meetings. Most important, the article gives us a list of tactics for group
- Problem census
- Rational reflection
- What is the
- What are the causes?
- What the criteria for an
- What are the possible
- What is the best solution?
- How shall the solution be
- Buzz groups
- Nominal group technique.
Members work alone to create lists and then reconvene to share. Further
individual work may be used to sort them, etc.
- Listening teams. Groups may
be assigned to listen for particular things during a panel discussion or
presentation (e.g., causes, etc.).
- Role playing
- Two-column method
- RISK. Participants are asked
for input on particular challenges and risks of agreed-upon solution.
Taxonomy of communications. Administrative
The author produces
an interesting taxonomy of interactions that can be used to monitor
interactions, resulting in cool charts that look like:
it’s difficult to create a takeaway from this paper. We don't for example, get
common patterns of communication, etc. It's a cool tool… but I don't how to
apply it. Maybe somebody has figured it out in the last 50 years!
McCowan et al.
(2002). Modeling human interaction in meetings. IDIAP
I think that I have
seen this thing before. Oh yeah. It didn't help me then either. Next!
Bostrom (1999). Meeting facilitation: process versus content interventions. Journal of Management Information Systems.
interventions are effective; content interventions are not… at least in terms
of group support systems. The implications are, however, a bit mysterious.
Meetings that matter: conversational leadership in today's organizations. Reflections.
(without a source): professionals spend 25% of their time in meetings;
department managers spend 40%; executives spend 80%. The article basically
advocates for a systems thinking approach where people use a meeting with Fifth Discipline ideals. The basic approach is
"conversational leadership," borrowing foundations from Malcolm
Knowles's adult learning models, Deming's TQM ideas, Edward Schein's ideas of
process consulting, Robert Greenleaf's servant-leadership model, and Senge's
In this model, the
goal of a meeting is learning and outcomes include personal or team structure
change; changes in thinking, acting, interacting; etc. Use FOCUS:
- F -- follow the Five
Guidelines for Learning Conversations
- O -- open with Check-in and
Context, Purpose, and Outcome (CPO)
- C -- clarify each agenda item
- U -- use
- S -- support safe space
include: "what is most pressing for you?" or "What did it take
for you to come to this meeting?" Use the check-in to ground people and to
show respect for what is going on with the participants. Ground people in what
they are about to do.
The Five Guidelines
for Learning Conversations include:
- Listen for
Listen openly and with respect. Listen to yourself.
- Speak from
the Heart. Speak
to contribute to the conversation, not to fill space or have your position
Suspend any certainty that you are right.
- Hold Space
"Don't counter with 'but'"; contribute with 'and'."
- Slow down
Take time to digest.
- Context -- how does today's
meeting fit into larger ongoing efforts and vision
- Purpose -- why are people
- Outcome -- what can
Context should generally link back to an ongoing project, corporate objective,
or business process; Purpose should be of the form: "[We need to] Develop
a timeline for the xyz project"; Outcome should be of the form: "[At
the end of the meeting, we'll have] Created a rough draft of the WBS."
Each item of
conversation should really be brought through the discussion points of conversation, clarity,
Now, on to something a bit more academic:
Leach et al. (2009).
Perceived meeting effectiveness: the role of design characteristics. Journal of Business Psychology.
This paper basically
reports on two studies that involved asking people about what works -- and what
doesn't -- within meetings. It involved a solid methodology and a decent n
count. Best practices included the use of an agenda, minutes, punctuality, appropriate
facilities, and the use of a chair or leader are important.
It seems that the
use of (and completion of) an agenda, punctuality, and decent facilities are
particularly important factors. Factors such as the meeting type, length, and
the number of participants are non-factors for perceived effectiveness.
This article was
actually quite interesting and has led to a variety of other citations for
McGlory (2000). Time
well spent? Strategic finance.
Hmmm… not much new
in this one.
Caruth and Caruth
(2010). Three prongs to manage meetings.
Barske (2009). Same
token, different actions. Journal of Business
So this is all about
the use of the phrase OK in German business meetings. Next.
Rogelberg et al.
(2012). Wasted time and money in meetings: increasing return on investment. Small Group Research.
The title is good
and apparently this comes from a special issue. The authors cite some numbers
-- organizations devote between 7% and 15% of personnel budgets to meetings; in
1995 Xerox (with 25,000 employees) spent $100.4M on meetings. Other studies have
demonstrated that 1/3 of time in meetings in considered unproductive and that
2/3 fail to meet their stated goals. The problem is a big one:
"Based on the
authors' informal surveying of dozens of HR leaders in Fortune 500 rims,
shockingly, organizations do little or nothing to assess the return on its
investment or to take substantive steps to assure that investment is a good
The authors propose
a three step process:
- Assess the organization's
investment in meetings.
- Determine hours
spent in meetings and combine the number with the encumbered salary
- Assess return on meeting
complete a survey on effectiveness and value of meetings.
- Observers can watch meetings
- Determine a percentage for
unnecessary and ineffective.
- Implement a change strategy.
Important topics of consideration include:
- Productive and
counterproductive leader and participant behaviors
- Meeting preparation and
- Meeting scheduling
- Appropriateness around
number of meetings
- Existing and quality of
training regarding meeting facilitation
- Satisfaction with quality
and quantity of shared information
- Feedback regarding
performance in meetings
- Decision-making approaches
used in meetings
- Participant evaluation of
- Leader evaluation of
- Participant evaluation of
Evaluation could be
built into performance reviews as specific skills or as alignment with core values.
- Amazon's "two
pizzas" -- a meeting should not exceed the number of people that
could be fed by two pizzas
- Intel's posters -- each room
is decorated with:
- Do you know the purpose of
- Do you have an agenda?
- Do you know your role?
Intel employee takes a course on effective meetings.
Allen et al. (2012).
Employees' feelings about more meetings: an overt analysis and recommendations
for improving meetings.
I wonder if this was
actually published? It's another study that basically asks people how they feel
about meetings. Not surprisingly, when those meetings have a clear objective
and share relevant information, people enjoy them. Employees are unhappy with
meetings if they constrain resources such as time. The study relies on
Hobfoll's notion of Conservation of Resource (COR), that is "a stress
model which suggests that people strive to retain, protect, and build resources
and that a potential or actual loss of those values resources is a threat to
Marshall et al.
(2015). A new model for high value meetings.
I'm not sure. But the authors do provide some UML diagrams… and they talk about
the "E^2 model":
The authors are chasing a concept they call
ROIOT (Return on Investment of Time). And then we don’t really get much else.
Lehmann-Willenbrock, and Landowski (2014). Pre-meeting talk: the impact of
pre-meeting communication on meeting effectiveness. Journal of Managerial Psychology.
People talk before
meetings. It could be small talk, meeting preparatory talk, work talk, or shop
talk. The authors did a study to explore the impact of these factors on overall
meeting success. It seems that only small talk is associated with overall meeting
success. This finding might be due to shared values, group cohesiveness, etc.
Apparently small talk had better correlations than open communication,
task-oriented focus, systematic approach, or the timeliness of the meeting. The
finding is particularly relevant for individuals who aren't extroverted.
Standaert et al.
(2015). An empirical study of the effectiveness of telepresence as a business
meeting mode. Information technology
telepresence is a bit better than audio- and video-conferencing but is no
better than face-to-face. The article does, however, gives us a good list of
telepresence is better than audio- and video-conferencing for: building trust
and relationships; communicating positive or negative feelings; giving or
receiving feedback; clarifying concepts, issues, or ideas. Interestingly,
audio-conferencing is best for "routine exchange of information."
Perhaps this finding is an example of Conservation of Resources.
Allen et al. (2014).
Understanding workplace meetings: a qualitative taxonomy of meeting purposes. Management Research Review.
authors have developed a taxonomy for meeting purposes. This should be
These numbers could
be averaged out based on the overall size of the economy to get some sense of
overall economic contribution. I'm sure the Bureau of Economic Analysis would
give us some numbers. Regardless, "routinely discuss the state of the business,"
"discuss quality, policy, and compliance," and "discuss on
ongoing project" seem to be the most relevant.
Cohen et al. (2011).
Meeting design characteristics and attendee perceptions of staff/team meeting
Some more numbers on
what makes a good meeting:
- Appropriate space,
refreshments, decent temperature and lighting
- Formal agenda available ahead
of meetings. A formal agenda not made available is not different from not
having an agenda!
- Smaller meetings are of
- Use of a facilitator wasn't
correlated with quality unless the meeting was large
Almost done. Here's
the last one:
Stray et al. (2013).
Obstacles to efficient daily meetings in agile development projects: a case
study. ACM/IEEE International symposium on
empirical software engineering and measurement.
Common challenges of
agile meetings include:
- Meetings are too long (22
minutes vs. 15 minutes)
- Reporting to Scrum Master vs.
- Meetings involved pre and
- Negative attitudes to
The article also
poses some potential solutions to these challenges that are primarily relevant
for agile processes.