Your Meetings are Wasting Big Money

Philip Betbeze, December 20, 2013

A former Harvard School of Public Health Associate Dean says CEOs may be ignoring one of their biggest waste reduction opportunities—cutting the duration of meetings. He offers five strategies for tackling meeting bloat.

This article first appeared in the November 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

David A. Shore studies meetings for a living. But he hates them.

One reason is because although many people recognize meetings as a waste of time and money, they are ubiquitous—particularly in healthcare.

With exceptions, when Shore, a former associate dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, says meeting time is largely wasted time, statistics are on his side. Shore, who founded the School's Programs in Project Management in Health Care, Forces of Change Program, and Trust Initiative, is also on the faculty of Harvard University Extension School.

In a recent working paper, From "Wasteful" Meetings to Parsimonious Meetings Management: Preserving Human Capital in Health Care Delivery Organizations, Shore and his son Douglas, an associate applications analyst on the Clinical Data Repository team at Partners HealthCare in Boston, argue that vast opportunities await top leaders in healthcare organizations—if they're willing to attack the meeting culture at their organizations.

He says that healthcare management and leadership spend as much as 4.5 to 5.5 hours a day in meetings, representing the single largest expenditure of time for those highly compensated individuals. In 2011, Shore notes, more than $2.7 trillion or 17.9% of US GDP was spent on healthcare, of which, as much as $750 billion, or almost 30% of the total spent, is estimated as waste.

I'd be willing to bet that a substantial portion of you are avoiding preparing for a meeting by reading this.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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