Meetings – What’s Your ROI?

I once sat at a conference table with a unique and very useful feature. At its head was inset a brass plaque with this inscription: “Never hold a $1,000.00 meeting to solve a $10.00 problem.”

Meetings. They are an essential feature of organizational life, however, they can be a very costly investment with a remarkably low rate of return. I recall being part of a “steering group” comprised of 15 senior and executive managers. This body met faithfully every two weeks for three hours. At a conservative estimate, each meeting consumed about $5,000.00 paying the salaries of those present (or, if you prefer annual costs, more than $225K/year). Of course that doesn’t capture the cost of the work done by the staff who supported the members of that group in preparing for the meeting. Nor does it capture the opportunity cost – what other things could have been done instead and what value might those have had for the organization. Put simply, what is the Return on Investment?

Are you concerned that you might be holding $1000.00 meetings and getting $10.00 of return for them? Here are some questions to ponder:

  • Do your meetings have a clear purpose? Do you know why you have invited each person to that meeting?

  • Do those attending the meeting know what that purpose is and how they contribute to it?

  • What is the climate of the meetings? Do those attending see them as time well spent? How do you know?

  • What results are you seeing from the meeting? Is progress being made towards your goals because of what happens in the meeting? How do you know?

  • How might you improve your Return on the Investment that you are making in these meetings?

In large organizations (and sometimes in small ones as well) “calling a meeting” or “striking a committee” is such an ingrained feature of the organizational culture that leaders sometimes forget to take the time to consider the costs of doing so. Do you find this a challenge? It’s something that I’ve wrestled with a lot. Contact me and let’s talk about it.