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Twokin Consulting: Boost productivity by saying no to meetings

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

This post is the first in a series of Twokin Consulting articles on how higher education institutions need to challenge the status quo using innovative ideas for reducing costs, increasing revenues, and improving campus operations.

Innovation Idea Number

1

Twokin Consulting Estimate of Implementation Difficulty

Medium

Twokin Consulting Estimate of Implementation Timeline

Medium Time Frame (4 to 6 months)

Twokin Consulting Estimate of Direct Financial Impact

Minor

Twokin Consulting Estimate of Campus Controversy it will Generate

Low - some will question it

While the purpose of a meeting and associate committee can vary depending on the context, common reasons for including making decisions, sharing information, discussing plans or proposals, and solving problems.


As an innovation approach, perform a detailed review of department, college, and institutional meetings and committees for their role and impact. Explore the cost of meetings. At one of my prior schools, the cost of a department-level meeting was over $1,000 an hour based on just faculty salaries. Similarly, the salary cost for the weekly executive meeting at another school was nearly $3,000. Are $1,000 to $3,000 of important decisions occurring during these meetings? Typically no.


Consider campus search committees where it is not uncommon to have ten or more people. Is this the best use of people’s time or can alternatives be developed for potential candidates to present or interact with a larger audience during the search process?


(update Jan 2023) In January 2023, Shopify, a company which provides an e-commerce platform for online stores, announced they are reducing all recurring meetings with more than three people, restricting all meetings on Wednesdays, and encouraged staff to decline or remove themselves from meetings. It is estimated that it will save nearly 76,000 hours of meeting time.


In addition to reviewing meetings, ponder the specific role of committees. Some schools have only limited university-level faculty committees (at one prior school, it was only four faculty committees), whereas at other schools there can be upwards of two dozen faculty-led academic committees. Explore what are the essential committees (e.g., accreditation) that the university needs.


While eliminating a campus committee or reducing the frequency of a meeting from once a week to once a month will not be highlighted at the balance sheet, it will reduce bureaucracy, wasted time, and allow people to focus on other priorities.


Twokin Consulting specializes in helping supporting colleges, universities, and nonprofits organizations in brainstorming strategies and ideas for improving operations.

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