Les journalistes de Process Excellence Network, dans le cadre de leur chronique consacrée aux idées du grand théoricien du management Peter Drucker, The Drucker Perspective, abordent le sujet des réunions dans les organisations.
Few things characterize modern management so much as the escalating tendency to have meetings — online and offline.
Remarkably, many meetings are time-wasters. Conducting an effective meeting is an acquired skill.
In short, people must be trained to make meetings work, that is, to contribute to the effectiveness of both the worker and the organization.
Peter F. Drucker observed that most meetings are boring…lack clear-cut objectives…and a meaningful structure. Equally counterproductive was the tendency for people to leave a meeting in the state of harmony and good feeling but without any sense of direction or program of action.
(…) the result of many kinds of meetings should degenerate into specific work assignments, deadlines for performance, and measurements to gauge whether or not what was decided upon is working.
Out of Sight, Out of Memory
Management, for example, often spends an enormous amount of time in meetings making capital appropriations decisions. But amazingly few pay much attention to what happens after the capital investment has been approved.
In many companies there is no way of finding out. To be sure, if a new multimillion-dollar CRM database system falls behind schedule or costs a great deal more than was originally planned, everybody knows about it.
But once the CRM « is on stream, » there is not too much attention paid to comparing its performance with the expectations that led to the investment.
Many decisions made in meetings are barely ever looked at once the decision has been made. No one follows up on whether or not what was discussed has been converted into measurable action, let alone expected results.
Too Many Meetings Are a Symptom of Malorganization
Meetings, said Peter F. Drucker, are by definition a concession to deficient organization. « For one either works or meets. One cannot do both at the same time.
« In an ideal design structure (which is only a dream) there would be no meetings. Everybody would know what he needs to know to do his job. Everybody would have the resources available to him/her to do his job.
« Meetings are necessary because people holding different jobs have to cooperate to get a specific task done… We meet because the knowledge and experience needed in a specific situation are not available in one head, but have to be pieced together out of experience and knowledge of several people.
Are You Spending More Than 25 Percent of Your Time in Meetings?
« Too many meetings always bespeak poor structure of jobs and the wrong organizational components…if people in an organization find themselves in a meetings a quarter of their time or more — there is time-wasting malorganization.
« Too many meetings signify that work that should be in one job or in one component is spread over several jobs or several components. They signify that responsibility is diffused and information is not addressed to the people that need it. »
Excessive meetings are a symptom of a major organizational problem. The organizational structure must be redesigned to achieve desired results.
The right organizational structure does not guarantee success. The wrong organizational structure guarantees nonperformance and an epidemic of meetings.
Said Drucker: « Whenever executives, except at the very top level, spend more than a fairly small fraction of their time — maybe a quarter or more — in meetings, there is prima facie a case of malorganization.
» An excess of meetings indicates that jobs have not been defined clearly, have not been structured big enough, have not been made truly responsible… »
Drucker taught us results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.
« All one can hope to get by solving a problem is to restore normality. All one can hope, at best, is to eliminate a restriction on the capacity of the business to obtain results. »
The results themselves must come from capitalizing on identified opportunities. Most meetings are concerned with the care and feeding of problems; what the organization is doing successfully is usually ignored.
Of course, problems must be taken care of, but when problems receive all the attention, it seems that management is satisfied with congratulating itself that things did not get worse.
Constantly struggling with problems, or putting out fires, at the expense of capitalizing on opportunities that have revealed themselves is a sure-fire sign that the business has past its prime.
Meetings Should Focus Vision on Opportunity, Not Only Problems
People see what is presented to them; what is not presented tends to be overlooked.
To repeat: « Most meetings discuss ‘problems’ —especially in the areas where performance falls below expectations — which means that managers tend not to see the opportunities. They’re simply not being presented with them. »
Drucker said again and again: « Of course, problems have to be paid attention to, taken seriously, and tackled… But if they are the only thing that is being discussed, opportunities will die of neglect. »