One big advantage we had in the 1990’s at Microsoft was that fact that the business was growing so fast we were always significantly understaffed. Hence, everybody had lots of responsibilities and not much time for non-essential meetings or e-mails. On the other hand, recently I have done work with a few organizations that were experiencing just the opposite; peoples were complaining about how tightly their schedules were packed with meetings and how each day they are buried by e-mail. My assessment is that this is due to one or more of the following conditions:
1) You’re over staffed! When people are not super busy, they find meetings to go to, create meetings, and send e-mail, most of which is just a waste of their time and that of others.
2) You’re operating with consensus management, when instead you should be holding specific people responsible for specific projects. Consensus is for improving processes; not for when you need to get things done and to innovate.
3) The leaders are not making decisions. Nothing creates meetings and e-mails like endless debates and lack of decisiveness.
What’s your experience regarding excess meetings and e-mails?