Making meetings more exciting?


There was some interesting research out a few weeks ago from Epson and CEBR suggesting that the average UK office worker wastes 2 hours and 39 minutes in meetings every week.

* £26 billion: the amount lost from UK economy through time wasted in meetings in 2011
* 2 hours 39 minutes: the number of hours workers feel are wasted in meetings during an average week
* 49 minutes: the number of wasted minutes in meetings not made up for later
* 10 hours or over: the amount of time one in five senior managers and directors say they spend in meetings per week
* 11 minutes: the average amount of time it takes for people’s attention to drift in a meeting.

Nothing too surprising about any of this, other than perhaps how low some of them are (people concentrate in meetings for 11 minutes at a stretch – really???).

Anyway, I’ve got an article in Management Today providing some suggestions for dealing with this problem. The last one’s my favourite!

* Dispense with chairs
* Get social
* Opting out
* Avoid technology blunders
* Water cooler culture
* Be bold with timings
* Get creative with locations
* Weapons of mass distraction
* Use professional facilitation
* Better biscuits

Innovative talent management - financial services example


June tomorrow and only a couple of weeks to the Economist Talent Management conference on the 14th where I will acting as a media partner (ie I’ll be blogging a lot) and moderator (interviewing Ryan Blair).

I’ve been asking for innovative example of talent management in return for offering two tickets to go along to the Summit with me. There are two leading entries to date – this is the first, from Alan in a financial services firm:

“Hi Jon. We have a few things which I think wouldn't count as very revolutionary (web based recruitment tools, etc) but the thing we are doing which is my 'entry' for your ticket competition is to massively extend the notion of leadership for change to everyone in the company. Its been done before in a few places, but not many. The issue is this - we have 4000 people worldwide. We have lots of things we want to achieve, lots of changes we want to make, but it will be too slow if we try to manage and control everything through some central process. We could spend forever analysing the changes required, assessing who we think our talented people are to go on the teams, creating plans, coordinating thru a programme office, etc, etc.

You know the picture because we've all seen it many times before. It works to a degree, but its inefficient, regularly underdelivers and often creates new management controls which stifle the business.

So we're heading in the other direction. We have a few projects for things like IT systems that need to be built, but almost everything else is up for grabs. There's an overall direction in terms of aspirations for the company, but the changes required are defined locally by people who have the energy to do something about it and can convince other people to get involved. Anyone can volunteer to identify something that's holding us back and get rid of it, or something that's an opportunity and go for it.

This way our talented people are not the ones who pass a conceptual assessment, but the people who step up and move the company forward. Its early days but in a few months we are on the way to millions of dollars of new business, simplified processes and the beginnings of a new buzz in the place.
And all of this is being done with no managers/leaders controlling what we do, no additional budget and no extra resources. It won't stay that way forever, but its an interesting journey as we explore what's possible.

Technically this is not a 'talent management initiative', in that its not being directed by HR and no-one is using the word talent, but it is developing people, it is changing the business, and it is delivering real results in line with our strategy, so I'd argue that counts :-)”

Innovative talent management – pharmaceuticals example

Lovely day today for the first day of June – just the jubilee to get over (more on that soon) and then a busy and entertaining month ahead – including the Economist’s Talent Management Summit on 14th June.

I’ve been asking for innovative example of talent management in return for offering two tickets to go along to the Summit with me. There are two leading entries to date – this is the second – from Keith Wilson, Global Talent / Change Director at Astra Zeneca (I know many of you will already know Keith as I suspect he’s the most connected HR person on Linkedin!):

“Great challenge Jon. I'll answer with a mixture of what we're doing and what we have plans to do.

But firstly my approach. I don't see the question that we're trying to address changing - i.e. balancing 'what does the organisation need', with 'what's right for the individual'. But I do see rapid change in the available toolset.

I try to triangulate (my favourite word of the moment) across the 'science', 'art' and external best practice in Talent Management to ensure that we continually evolve to have an agile approach.

The Science: we're making good progress on getting the right systems in place. I continue to be impressed by the likes of SuccessFactors and Rypple and we're seeing increased interest in what big data implications are for HR. For me this is about timeliness, accuracy and point-of-need; giving Line Managers actionable information at their fingertips, and reducing noise/complexity.

The Art: this gets to the heart of your question and I think this differs very much company-to-company (depending on that lazy c-word, culture). What is the common Talent language and how are decisions made?. I see a continued tilt towards the 'art' of talent management (as opposed to the science) in more relationship-based orgs, where perception/judgement and the subtleties of influence are more important. I wonder if we'll see roads towards the science of measuring that, perhaps an internal organisational Klout score? I'd also suggest that increased focus on building a truly diverse reflection of global footprint is accelerating the need to answer these questions. When it comes to how we think, the concept of 'unconscious bias' is proving a useful conversation.

Best practice: I've observed, recently, what I think is an interesting trend. The likes of Google & Microsoft have been saying that traditional leadership/talent development programmes haven't been working for them and that they're focussing on 'stretch-assignments', 'planning the next 2 roles', 'global mobility'. This has always been our approach (and has proved very successful from pov of succession/retention) and it's interesting to see other industries moving towards it...

So.... I try to THINK in 3-D (triangulation), ACT quickly, simply, based on timely information, and BEHAVE responsibly, confidently and with integrity.

I'm interested to hear others points of view...???”

Love it – and I definitely think there’s going to be a big focus on aligning talent management with organisational influence rather than individual contribution over the next few years. More about that on this blog again soon as well.

Any comments for Keith, or me – do leave them here…

And if you think you can do better? – there’s still time to post your entry (the deadline has been extended till the end of the weekend).

But if you don’t make it you can still get a 15% discount by quoting SHCM when you book.

Picture credit: Picking up on Keith’s cue, I tried to use Twiangulate for him ( @kjw_hrd ), the Economist ( @EG_LeadershipTE ) and myself ( @joningham ) to analyse our relationships but it didn’t tell me that much – other than Keith doesn’t use Twitter as much as he does Linkedin!

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