categories: communication
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November 20th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

16 comments (+ Add)

Half the Meetings, Twice the Productivity

Over time at Life Church, our systems became more complicated and our communication more challenging.

To help people become better informed, we started adding meetings. Unfortunately, more meetings led to more inefficiency. (This may not always be the case. But it often is. Read Death by Meetings by Patrick Lencioni.)

We tried a radical experiment and cut the frequency of our meetings in half. If a group met once a month, we moved it to once every two months. If they met four times a year, we moved it to twice a year. If they met once a week, we moved it to twice a month.

Here is what happened:

  • Instead of less communication, we had better communication. The infrequency of meetings forced us to be more intentional with our communication.
  • Instead of planning out one week, we had to plan two. This forced us to become more organized.
  • Instead of the meetings seeming dull and boring, people came more excited to be together.
  • Instead of longer, more drawn out meetings, people worked harder, faster and smarter.
  • We freed up a ton of time for other important ministry.

It might be a slight overstatement… if so, not by much. I honestly think we cut our meetings in half and doubled our production.

Thoughts?

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Comments

there are a total of16
  1. 1Alan Reynolds
    Nov 20, 2008 at 6:04 am

    I believe this works for you because of the effectiveness of your leadership team and your leadership. Having half the meetings with a team that is not effective still does not produce better results. At least in my experience.

  2. Nov 20, 2008 at 8:04 am

    We have necessary meetings and that’s it period, exclamation point.!

    I used to do consulting for government agencies and my recommendation would almost always be: quit meeting for the sake of meeting and stop having meetings to schedule another meeting, and put up your PowerPoint presentation because no one cares…

    I did a post earlier this year entitled “Meeting Freak” that coincides with all the good stuff Craig is sharing. http://bigisthenewsmall.com/?p=290

  3. Nov 20, 2008 at 8:53 am

    My response….YES, Way to GO! This takes so much PRESSURE off of “meetings” and WHAT TO DO at meetings. I had to give presentations every now and then in medical sales meetings and it was the worst PRESSURE! My boss wanted me to perform and I hated being evaluated for meeting content! YUCK!!!!! The sales reps were playing solitare on their lap tops…passing notes and were zoned out! What a drag!

    You are making the BEST use of the time you have been given….Team Huddle…then “BREAK”…..Play Ball!

  4. Nov 20, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I totally agree. I have discovered that at least half the meetings we think we need can be accomplished by simply having some intentional conversations - not scheduled, no written agenda’s, no large groups gathered. They are more fun, more relational, more productive.

  5. 5Ben
    Nov 20, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I would love to cut the number of meetings in half. I always feel that things get communicated in one meeting only to have to be talked about in another meeting before anything can happen. Not to mention the things that happen in the meetings that I am not apart of, but still end of with projects from the meeting.

  6. Nov 20, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Do you still have weekly staff meetings, or have those been cut in half too? do you have different meetings for different levels of staff? etc..

  7. Nov 20, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I TOTALLY understand this from a production perspective, I have scheduled some of our volunteers to meet quarterly or semi-monthly. What have you noticed about the relational strength or the trust levels? Do people spend more time casually relating since they are doing less in a formal meeting structure? What implications does this have for worship gatherings or small groups?

  8. Nov 20, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Great series of posts! We read “Death By Meeting” as a staff and it has totally taken our mtgs to a WNL! We’ve still got a long way to go, but we’re making progress. Another great book we went through is “5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Lencioni and “it” by some other author? :) Thanks for all you do for the church.

  9. Nov 20, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    This can be a great solution for bad meeting planning. I agree with Scott Williams, that the chair person or manager or pastor holding the meeting should really take responsibility for poorly planned meetings. Good leadership includes the ability to think clearly about the meeting… if no urgent matters are at hand (not that we should be held captive to the ‘tyranny of the urgent’) than the leader should really be thinking of where he/she is taking the team to the next level.

    I agree that meeting for the sake of meetings can be a terrible waste of time for everybody involved… with that in mind we need to consider also the need to still keep a regularity of meeting up- even if the meetings need to be cancelled due to insignificant agenda items. The REAL indicator of how often a meeting needs to be can be the importance/urgency of the agenda. This way we are “purpose driven” (to steal Rick Warren’s term) rather than meeting driven.

    Another key we have discovered is sometimes the attendance at meetings can become too large for functionality… by this I mean that too many leaders (all with good suggestions) can make the discussion of specific points irrelevant to the majority of the attendees. One method of solving this is to either choose attendees based on agenda items (leaders who are not ministering or interested in this area need not attend).

    Alternatively, its important to re-asses regularily the purpose of meetings… in other words the exact same people may meet on the same regularity, but now for a completly different outcome… for example instead of your board meeting every week to cover “everything”, you may want to separate the meeting into fortnightly meetings of “strategic decisions in accordance with future developments and plans” and fortnightly meetings of “management/problem solving”. in this case the exact same people are meeting, in the same frequency, but for completly different purposes.

  10. Nov 21, 2008 at 9:48 am

    My meetings are with volunteers, and though no one likes long-draw-out-meetings, my people LOVE the comradery that they feel. If we skip a month they start to complain. I think meetings need to have a rhythm and a sense of exciment so everyone leaves going, “yeah!”

  11. Nov 21, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Robb, in your situation if there is nothing to discuss you can have a fellowship get-to-gether.

  12. Nov 22, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I have noticed and felt the effects of what Dave mentioned. A large part of our larger staff meetings really was worshiping together, being inspired and energized, casting new vision, and hearing exciting new developments from other teams. When the big meeting cut-down started to occur a few years ago (which unfortunately coincided with a lot of growth in the number of new staff) I really felt the loss of that.

    For me, those large all-staff meetings were like a chance to come up to catch a breath of fresh air, especially in seasons where I was completely covered up being productive. That’s when I need a second wind the most.

    I would suggest that leaders consider if they should use some of the time saved by cutting out bureaucratic meetings for better or more frequent motivational gatherings. We still haven’t landed on the best balance (IMHO).

  13. Nov 22, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    these are great points. less is more. good old covey … “the good is the enemy of the best”…..

  14. Nov 22, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    hey Craig! Thanks for making Catalyst One Day a part of your schedule. I realize the sacrifice you made to take time away from your family and come talk to us and i really appreciate that.

    Also, thanks for taking time to sign my book. I was happy to meet you.

    One questions for you: Where did you go to college? I went to Liberty University and i have heard that you attended there too, but wasn’t sure.

    Anyway, thanks again!

  15. Nov 23, 2008 at 11:10 am

  16. Nov 25, 2008 at 9:38 am

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