Productive Meetings

with Dave Kashen

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Why good meetings matter

Dave Kashen

Entrepreneur, Startup CEO Coach, Team & Culture Expert

Lessons Learned

In most meetings, the future escapes unscathed.

Many meetings are called for the benefit of one and at the expense of everyone else.

Meetings are the number one factor in employee satisfaction at large companies.


Lesson: Productive Meetings with Dave Kashen

Step #1 Challenge: Why good meetings matter

In most meetings, the future escapes unscathed and I think that's really the core of what makes a meeting inefficient is that it doesn't actually impact the future so it takes up a lot of people's time and energy and effort, they come together they spend this time and nothing is fundamentally different. I think that's at the core of it.

I think there are a ton of symptoms then there's a ton of causes of that, but in essence, I think what makes a meeting inefficient is that it doesn't actually impact the future, and then we can drill into it a little bit. The participants are not clear what the goal is, what the point of the meeting is, why they are having it in the first place, and without that foundation, typically they'll just talk about whatever is front of mind, or everyone will have their own individual agenda that they will try to put forth to the group, or they'll go down on tangents and people will just be sitting there frustrated because they are going on a tangent.

But because a lot of the social norms and dynamics that most of us have come to accept and in most companies, interrupting people is considered rude often, so we'll just sit there and letting someone go down this tangent and seething inside, but just let it happen. And then all of a sudden, the 30 minutes, the 60 minutes that are allotted for the meeting are up and we leave wondering what we just spent that time doing.

I've been lucky in a sense as a facilitator and coach. I haven't been a part of a large organization where these meeting dynamics are really prevalent in a couple of years. In my prior life I was in finance and definitely have a lot of those experience where maybe I had a boss would call a meeting and it was sort of a way for him or her to get updates from the team. In the absence of thinking a little bit further about how might I get this information, the easiest way was just to call a meeting and so it's really a meeting to benefit one person at the expense of everyone else.

I think that's really some of the issue is that we are not thoughtful enough about the cost of meetings both in time, in salary cost, in opportunity cost, and people's energy and frustration. We saw some research, meetings are actually the number one factor in employee satisfaction in large companies. It's pretty staggering, but if you think about it, it is sort of a proxy for your experience of work. If you spend half or more of your day in meetings and those meetings are not effective, you go home every day feeling frustrated and like you got nothing done. Then you have to actually do your real work.

Well, five years ago, I had an online health startup that was acquired in 2009 and after it was sold, I took a step back to try to figure out what I really want to do with my life and went through a process of introspection and hired a coach for myself and essentially realized that a lot of the decisions that I had been making up until that point were coming from a place of feeling like there was something not good enough about me. And I was trying to prove to the world that I was good enough by doing things that seemed impressive and if I could let that go, what felt most authentic for me would be to help people be their best selves and be fulfilled in their lives.

I have sort of been on this mission since then to help create fulfillment in the world. I have been doing that as an executive coach as a trainer and facilitator doing organizational development and culture development. About a year ago a friend who is also a coach, we were just talking about, or I was talking to him about wanting to have a bigger impact expand the scale and scope of my impact. And he challenged me with a question, he said what's the biggest pain point you could solve, the solving of which will create more fulfillment in the world? That just landed, it went in and about 24 hours later I had the closest thing I have ever felt to an epiphany moment.

I was just like meetings, this part of all of our working lives that most people spend at least half their day doing and for most people it's really frustrating. I did a lot of interviews and people describe it as soul crushing, this soul crushing experience. And I realized that as a facilitator and as a participant over the last five or so years, especially, I've led and been a part of meetings that were the opposite of that. So it is possible to have a meeting where people are deeply connecting, are feeling like their best selves are being brought forth, their creativity, and you can make meaningful progress toward goals you actually care about and that matter and are aligned with your vision and company.

That gap between what a meeting is for most people and what it could be, I felt called to try to help bridge that gap. We started to explore well how might we do that using technology so that we can have this really scalable impact. And one of the core things we realized was that while as a facilitator while part of the benefit you provide is your presence and being there a big part of it is just the structure that you create. That structure can be created through technology as well. That is a lot of the core of what led to MeetingHero.

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