Plan a Better Meeting with Design Thinking

 

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Maya Bernstein and Rae Ringel for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR  email alerts, please click here.

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“Sometimes, when I sit in meetings, especially ones in which people don’t seem engaged, I calculate the cost in staff time. I’ve estimated that one standard weekly meeting in my bureau — 50 people sitting in a cookie-cutter conference room, looking both bored and anxious — costs around $177,000 annually, and surely this scenario occurs throughout the [organization] hundreds of times a day. It drains us, and it breeds cynicism. So many meetings are lost opportunities.”

Do these sentiments — expressed by an applicant to the course on meeting facilitation we teach at Georgetown University — sound familiar to you? They should, according to these statistics on meetings:

o Organizations hold more than 3 billion meetings each year.
o Executives spend 40-50% of their working hours — or 23 hours per week — in meetings.
o 90% of meeting attendees admit to daydreaming in them.
o 73% acknowledge they do other work during meetings.
o 25% of meetings are spent discussing irrelevant issues.

At the same time, the right kind of meetings can be key to advancing a team or organization’s agenda. So how do you ensure that the gatherings you host are productive, not destructive?

By applying design thinking, a concept popularized by IDEO founder David Kelly and Stanford’s d.school, which was first applied to the design of physical objects, then other products, such as technological tools, and now to more complex challenges across a wide variety of industries. The idea is to put the “user” at the center of the experience — an approach that works with meeting design, too.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Maya Bernstein is an independent consultant working in the areas of innovation, leadership, and creativity. She is a faculty member at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and co-director of the Executive Certificate in Facilitation program.

Rae Ringel is the president of The Ringel Group, a leadership development consultancy specializing in facilitation, coaching and training. She is a faculty member at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and co-director of the Executive Certificate in Facilitation program.

 

 

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