Poking fun at meetings is the stuff of Dilbert cartoons—we can all joke about how soul-sucking and painful they are. But that pain has real consequences for teams and organizations. In a HBR interview, someone described stabbing her leg with a pencil to stop from screaming during a particularly torturous staff meeting.
Much has been written about this problem, but the solutions posed are usually discrete: Establish a clear agenda, hold your meeting standing up, delegate someone to attend in your place, and so on. We’ve observed in our research and consulting that real improvement requires systemic change, because meetings affect how people collaborate and how they get their own work done.