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August 3, 2008

Inefficient meetings cost businesses millions a year

More than half of meetings overrun, only one third record appropriate minutes and two thirds are followed up with inappropriate actions, due dates, assignments and evaluation, according to research conducted by Proudfoot Consulting, one of the world's leading operational improvement consultancies.

With such inefficiencies costing blue chip organisations "millions a year" in lost productivity, worryingly, the research highlight's that most managers understand the basic ground rules of meetings, such as agreeing a purpose and following up on actions, but only a handful put them into practice.

Proudfoot, which works with a broad range of high-profile organisations such as BHP Billiton, Air France and Müller, studied the effectiveness of 156 meetings for the research during the 109 Business Reviews it conducted between 2007 and 2008, in 91 different companies worldwide.

With its focus on making the management of work processes and people more efficient, Proudfoot conducts business reviews before all of its major client projects to understand the current state of their operations.

"Inefficiency in meetings, a key area of business communication, can literally cost organisations millions a year,” said Jean Thevelin, European president at Proudfoot. “This research indicates that there is a veritable gulf between best and actual practice – a finding that we expect will correlate strongly with many people's personal experiences of meetings. For quick results, companies need to make managers aware of when to call a meeting, with whom and for what purpose. It sounds simple, yet the majority of meetings we observe occur arbitrarily, and in turn, leave people without a sense of purpose – a key reason behind a lack of subsequent action and a drop in productivity."

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