Challenging Myths — Part 5: Do we really need all these meetings?
For many, “meetings” have gained a negative reputation. They’re often seen as a huge source of waste of time, a distraction from getting real work done. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind this.
First of all, the meeting experience you face in your particular job environment will have a huge effect on how you experience meetings.
Top reasons leading to excessive and dysfunctional meetings
- Lack of trust — When there is a lack of trust among team members and stakeholders, it can lead to excessive meetings as a way to micromanage or ensure everyone is on track.
- Lack of great processes — If the existing processes do not support the work being performed in an efficient manner, additional meetings than necessary will be used as a workaround.
- Lack of clarity — If strategy, targets, decisions, or general important information is not in place or not sufficiently communicated, meetings are needed to clarify them.
- Analysis paralysis — In a culture of over-analyzing decisions, a need for constant validation and consensus lead also to many meetings.
- Management by committee — When decision-making is spread across multiple individuals or teams, it can result in a higher number of meetings to gather input and reach a consensus.
- Bad Meeting culture — Lack of ownership to question meetings, attendees, meeting purpose, agenda, etc., can lead to unnecessary meetings with too many participants and insufficient results.
These are obviously bad reasons to run meetings. Instead, the root causes should be solved.
Still, there are lots of valid reasons why team members, stakeholders, or colleagues should come together at the same time for a common purpose (=Meeting).
Top reasons where meetings play a crucial role in product development
- Creativity work — Collaborative sessions at the interfaces between various fields of knowledge can spark creativity and innovation. Team members can bounce ideas off each other, leading to breakthroughs and novel solutions.
- Alignment and Goal Setting — Complex topics could lead to different points of view. We sometimes need to facilitate discussions on strategies, tactics, priorities, solutions, risks, etc., ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals in the end.
- Decision-Making — Difficult decisions require input and perspectives from various team members. Discuss options, weigh pros and cons, and arrive at informed decisions more efficiently is necessary from time to time.
- Accountability and Progress Tracking — Stand-ups, check-ins, feedback loops, etc. help track progress, get feedback, identify roadblocks, hold team members accountable for their tasks, and ensure that the product development process stays on track.
- Relationship Building — Because we’re human and most of us need to build relationships and trust to perform well. This can boost morale, job satisfaction, and results at the same time.
You probybly can’t solve problems by just dissolving the meetings (except the entirely useless ones), nor can you abandon meetings that are necessary for the quality of your work.
Done right and especially for the right reasons and with the necessary participants, meetings are not productivity killers. Instead, they serve as a cornerstone of successful product development work. For that reason it’s absolutely normal that product people have a lot of meetings as part of their responsibility.