conference-150613_1280In the building design and construction world there is definitely one meeting, usually known as the Owner-Architect-Contractor (OAC) meeting that in its current form has outlived its usefulness. For a large project these meetings can easily include thirty or more people, many attending because someone, not necessarily the attendee, feels that they cannot be left out.

Much of the time in these meetings is comprised of progress reports on various aspects of the project. Most people in the room don’t need most of these reports, and for those that do a written submission would often suffice.

Often these meetings include attempts to solve problems which typically involve only a minority of people in the room, thereby wasting everybody else’s time. To make the meeting appear worthwhile action item lists are developed and circulated as meeting minutes. That the action items are vague, sometimes unassigned, and not connected to any clear project need provides fodder for the next meeting. No wonder these meetings can last in excess of three hours.

Why do we have these long meetings? One reason is a tendency toward large batch thinking, that suggests if we have a lot of issues on a project let’s discuss them all in one big meeting, even if no one person needs to be involved in all these issues. The other is that we allow waste to creep into these meetings. Like a hedge or tree, meetings need proper and regular pruning. Try value stream mapping your meetings to understand how little discussed is producing the value needed.

Should some meetings die? If glancing around the meeting room you see many people sneakily, or blatantly, checking email and surfing social media then your meeting is already on life support. It’s time to reassess the value needed from the meeting and then cut the waste, both agenda items and unneeded attendees, from the meeting and do only what is needed to realize the value sought.