As disruptive technology so often demonstrates, innovation can be just as much about how you do something as what it is you do.
In her book "The Art of Gathering", Priya Parker reminds us that meetings, like all gatherings, are a mechanism for people to, well, meet. When organising meetings, it is easy to focus on logistics and as a result overlook purpose - what should attendees feel, know and do as a result of that meeting?
Parker believes that by taking a human-centered approach, gatherings both in social and work contexts can be meaningful, memorable experiences. Readers familiar with design thinking may recognise this approach as one of its key principles.
It is, of course, possible to apply design thinking principles when planning a meeting. However, recognising the meeting as a process and not an end product allows us instead to utilise design thinking principles as part of the meeting itself.
For example, one of the stages of the design thinking process is to focus on the challenge before generating ideas. While an agenda is a good start, tying agenda points to clearly defined outcomes drives efficiency by keeping attendees on the task, as well as enabling evaluation of whether the meeting has achieved its purpose.
Recasting meetings as processes in this way also helps us to bear in mind that recurring meetings, which may risk becoming routine, could well benefit from regular evaluation to ensure that, as the needs of the team and the project change, the meetings continue to accommodate those needs.
Organizations hold more than 3 billion meetings each year. Executives spend 40-50% of their working hours — or 23 hours per week — in meetings. 90% of meeting attendees admit to daydreaming in them. 73% acknowledge they do other work during meetings. 25% of meetings are spent discussing irrelevant issues.