In a recent survey of project managers we asked them how much planning they typically perform for a project meeting. The results are very interesting and I think they point to a conclusion somewhat contrary to the data.
* No Planning – 2%
* Small Amount of Planning – 13%
* Medium Amount of Planning – 41%
* Large Amount of Planning – 19%
* Every Detail is Planned Out – 22%
I couldn’t help but wonder did 41% of people really do a medium amount of planning and what exactly does that mean? Are they following a standard process for planning meetings? What does planning mean to them? Why are they only doing a medium amount of planning? Are they measuring their planning effort in minutes or is there some other metric at play? If planning is good for part of the meeting then why not for the rest of it? I think people recognize that planning a meeting is a valuable exercise but I wonder why 56% of the people surveyed do a medium amount or less of planning. What is the underlying reason they leave so much to chance? Could this lack of discipline contribute to the generally poor perception of meetings that permeates our business culture? I suspect that meeting planning is a lot like other things in life that we know are good for us but they take too much effort to implement so we just don’t follow through.
What we need is a simple and easy process for planning meetings that doesn’t leave so many details to chance. Something that is repeatable and if followed will guarantee that we don’t overlook an important planning detail. We have all heard the old saying, “If we fail to plan we plan to fail”. Nowhere is this more true than with meeting planning. Think about how much better meetings could be if we spent just 15 minutes properly planning them. It would deliver better results for your projects, improve your image with others at work and would ultimately save time by allowing meetings to be more efficiently run. If you could eliminate one meeting per week by running more efficient meetings what would that mean to you?