Productive Meetings

This week I’ve been working on material about meetings. The information I read from others about meetings made me wonder if anything could ever be accomplished in a meeting and if there really was a reason to have any type of meeting.

Most of the comments said one hour meetings were adequate and most meetings were a waste of times and unproductive. So if that’s the case, why bother?

I do agree one hour meetings probably are unproductive if they’re going to be problem solving meetings. If you think about them, a one hour meeting really isn’t one hour. If it starts on time, it can usually take people about 10 minutes to actually focus on what’s going on and there usually is a 10 minute summary at the end of a meeting so, at best, the one hour meeting has now turned into a 40 minute meeting. That may be adequate for an information only meeting but most problems cannot be resolved in 40 minutes with good discussion occurring.

How can you make a meeting more productive? Here’s a few ideas.

1. Have a specific purpose. Define what it is you want to meet about and let everybody know before the meeting so they can be thinking about it. Also, if membership is made up of people from different organizations and areas, let them know why they need to be included. The length of time of a meeting isn’t as important as the type or purpose of meeting or how the meeting is organized.

2. Use a specific problem solving process and follow the process as it was designed. If you follow the problem solving process step by step in order it can help organize the meeting. Maybe at one meeting you determine the root causes of a problem. It may be possible to do that in a one hour meeting. At the next meeting, you might decide how to proceed and what information is needed. Maybe other problem solving tools will need to be done like a control chart or a histogram. This can also help to determine what’s going on. Problem solving processes are available from ASQ on their website,, or Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act or we at CALMC use a problem solving wheel found on a website from Yale University,…/problemsolvingmodel.pd

3. Too many times people go into meetings thinking everything must be resolved in one hour just like a television show. Wrong. To do a thorough job of problem solving, from diagnosing to evaluating solutions it can take some time. If a problem is small enough, it may be resolved in a one hour meeting. With good organization and someone to keep the meeting on track, meetings longer than one hour can be productive and worth people’s time.

4. A facilitator can help groups get more participation and be more productive with specific tools and techniques. Yes, it may take longer to have more people involved rather than a few but it also will provide more and better perspectives on the problem and greater acceptance to any resolution of a problem.

Attendance can improve if meetings are productive, if people have an opportunity to discuss issues and their ideas are used for problem resolution. People are more willing to participate when they are involved in the decision making process than if they’re being told to do something and they will be more accepting of the outcome.

This can provide you with a starting point but the main thing to remember, meetings can be productive. It may take longer than one hour but it may be a good idea when it comes to resolving problems.

More information on meeting process and structure will be on future blogs. The CALMC Facebook  page also has  ideas to help make your meetings more productive.  A meeting webinar is on CALMC- On -Demand at


About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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