We’ve all been part of a bloated weekly meeting. You know the one, with 20-plus attendees that’s been happening every week for years; where everyone attends because they’re supposed to, but no one gets much value out of it; where everyone multitasks or wishes they were somewhere else (or both). The sheer amount of time invested in these low-value interactions is a high-cost impediment to getting things done. So how do you fix it?
Not with a sweeping gesture or an edict from a CEO. That’s because meetings tend to be reinforced by norms and network effects – if one person attempts to fix it by, say, declaring that they will no longer attend meetings on Wednesdays, the overall system tends to reject the change. In other words, their colleagues will just continue to schedule meetings on Wednesdays.
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This article is written by Ryan Fuller and originally appeared on March 17 2015 in Harvard Business Review.