One of my favorite quotes is by a man named William Pollard, who was a physicist and Episcopal priest. Mr. Pollard was responsible for championing the organization of the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies back in 1946.
Mr Pollard said:
‘Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit’
If I could talk to Mr. Pollard I would suggest that he consider making one small addition to his quote. I would suggest adding “at the right time” immediately following “right people” to signify the importance of making sure that information is available at the exact moment that it is needed. The quote would then read:
‘Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people, at the right time, in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit’
The reason I like this quote so much is that it offers very practical advice. In 31 words he lays out a justification for why organizations should be careful to make sure they have processes and systems in place to capture, organize and operationalize the information that is produced by employees each and every day. The majority of this information is produced as a result of the meetings that take place in organizations and the major problem we see is that most organizations don’t have processes and systems in place to capture, organize and make use of this extremely valuable information.
In our business we talk to lots of people about their experiences with meetings. In a recent survey we conducted 79% of people reported that their organizations use paper/memo pads to capture meeting information. The remainder use some combination of word documents, digital notebooks or nothing to capture the information that is generated during their meetings.
The bottom line is that your organization is investing a significant amount of money, in terms of human capital, into meetings. These meetings produce important information that if collected, organized, processed and made available to the right people, at the right time, in a format suitable for decision making, can transform the productivity of your organization.
In the book, Design To Grow – How Coca Cola Learned To Combine Scale and Agility, co-authors David Butler and Linda Tischler lay out a series of lessons learned through their experiences. Lesson learned # 11 is Make It Easier To Do The Right Thing. The authors specifically point out meetings as one of the areas where this lesson learned applies:
If you want your team to have more effective meetings, design a system: name the types of meetings, set limits on times for each type, clarify the roles and responsibilities, and create a knowledge sharing platform so the learning can be shared. If you want to create more openness across your team, design a system.
If you don’t have processes and a system in place to manage your organization’s meetings and ensure that information is captured, organized and shared then you need to put this in place immediately. Every day that you go without you are flushing your valuable resources down the drain, killing your productivity and damaging employee morale.
Do you have a system in place to capture, organize and operationalize the information that is created based on the time you are investing in meetings? Leave us a comment below and join the conversation. Or better yet email us and let us help you get something in place.