11 Things The Cost Of Wasted Meetings Could Pay For


37 billion dollars is a lot of money, even by the standards of the ridiculously rich. What is the significance of this number?  This is the amount of money that is wasted each year on business meetings, thwarting the effectiveness and efficiency in good business practice.  Consider this figure in context with the following items that could be purchased with 37 Billion dollars.

1. Major Sports Franchise


image: wikipedia

At this price, the sports enthusiast could basically take their pick of any of the major sports franchises.  We’re not just talking about consistently losing franchises either.  This much money could easily purchase a certain Super Bowl winning football team roughly 30 times over!

2. Major Film & Television Production Studio


image: Sarah Ackerman

Ever wanted to star in a major motion picture or television series?  37 Billion could buy Paramount Studios 3 and 1/2 times.  So instead of choosing between a movie or a television show, why not star in both?

3. Cowboys Stadium


image: Randall Chancellor

One of the most incredible stadiums of the modern era could be yours for a cool 1.1 Billion.  Since you have so much left over, why not construct a Cowboys stadium in 35 other major cities as well?

4. 30 Percent of Apple Stock


image: publicdomainpictures.net

Make sure you are always current on the latest and greatest in technological gadgets.  Anyone, who owns a third of the company should get first crack at all those wonderful new toys, right?

5. White House


image: Tim Sackton

The likelihood of becoming President Of The United States is slim to none though, who’s to say you can’t live like one?  For 37 billion dollars you could not only purchase the White House; you could erect 140 replicas in any city, anywhere.

6. Gold Plated Bentley


image: Concavo Wheels

Since the White House has so much garage space and you have so many of them, why not purchase 37000 gold plated Bentleys to keep safe?  That’s what 37 Billion could buy.

7. Air Force One


image: Dtom 

When transport is significant enough to require air travel, why not hop on one of 70 Air Force planes.  Yup, that’s how many you could purchase with 37 billion dollars!

8. The World’s Most Expensive Yacht


image: Pinponwa

Why not park one of your Air Force series planes on the largest and most expensive yacht in the world?  Choose from any of the 37 versions of the “Streets Of Monaco” Yachts that will always be ready for you to use.

9. Combined Debt Of Countries


image: Images Money

While 37 billion can certainly buy a lot of toys and frivolous impulse purchases, it can also do some good.  Why not take all that money and wipe out the debts of Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica combined? Yes, you absolutely could!

10. The United States Budget For The World Health Organization


image: US-Mission

Philanthropy can become contagious, so help out the US by covering their budget toward The World Health Organization.  For 37 Billion dollars, you could cover the costs for the next 9 years.

11. Paid Holiday To Cancun


image: pixabay

Most of us could most likely afford this now, if we could ever get away from the office.  This isn’t a solo trip however. This is an all expense paid vacation for you and 10 million of your closest business associates.  Time to get out of those board meetings and into the sunshine of an exotic beach.

Mind Your HiPPO


When JC Penny stock shot to nearly one billion dollars after hiring who was referred to as “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs,” the parade was all but booked on the corner of Money Street and Prosperity Avenue.

18 months later, after the failure of renowned business executive Ron Johnson, those same streets were barren,  littered only with the discount coupons they couldn’t even pay former patrons to use.

According to Business Insider, the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion,” or HiPPO is a plague that has affected many top corporations and moguls from Sears to former Clinton White House Aide, Jason Goldberg respectively.  This phenomenon is costing stockholders their investments and reserving a space in the unemployment line for an unsuspecting and once faithful and career driven employee pool.

HiPPO Beware

It is often suggested that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who surround themselves with more intelligent people.  Using this information, many major and upstart corporations looking for a boost in profit will seek out and highly compensate one of these individuals. With stacks of hundred dollar bills blocking their ear canals, the suggestions of others become unable to reach the HiPPO’s brain superiority.  

No one is listening, thereby allowing only one set of opinions are being heard.

Whilst surrounding oneself with more intelligent or knowledgeable people is a good start, being able to let their opinions flow and being willing to be challenged is vital for the best plan or decisions to emerge.

This humble leadership doesn’t just apply to the traditional role of the ‘leader’, it helps everyone whose perceived authority can unduly influence critical conversations.

Surround oneself with intelligent people is a good start, let their opinions flow is vital for the best decisions to emerge. Click To Tweet

Highly Intelligent Individuals DO Make Mistakes

The catalyst of failure for Johnson with JC Penny was determined to be something so simple and avoidable, it’s hard to fathom that it was even allowed to occur.

Forbes Online suggests that Johnson chose to follow his “gut” instead of proven focused group data in determining consumer preference. To state it simply, a multimillionaire believed that he better understood what a middle class patron wanted to purchase. In this case, the data was available, though it was ignored by a feeling.  Since JC Penny threw all of it’s “cents” into the pockets of Johnson, is it any wonder why when Johnson asked his subordinates if the plan was working, no one had the gumption to speak up?

Large Ripples The Of HiPPO Effect

The HiPPO effect creates ripples of intimidation as members in the board room learn to keep their mouths shut, eventually lose their voice, and become accustomed to the role of subservient rat to the Pied Piper.

Employees are disempowered, moral is destroyed, and accountability becomes a tale of folklore and mythology.

The goal of a company is reduced to the vision of one, and no matter how well that one is able to see, it could never compete with the strength in vision of a cohesive unit. Why have a board room or, better yet, a board, if the voices and opinions of those in and on it are irrelevant?

Hungry, Hungry, Not The HiPPO

Once a problem has been recognized, it must be confronted if it is to change.

This is often the most challenging proposition to implement and can largely determine the fate of an organization. Allow the opinions of the staff to be vocalized before those of the influencers, even if it requires a closed or silent voting session. Crowd voting has also become a popular method with the seemingly infinite resources of technology.

To diffuse the intimidation factor of the great HiPPO, these actions are imperative. Proper facilitation, idea implementation efficiency, and  restoring the voices of those who matter can bring the creativity and success back in the board room to which it belongs.

Originally published on Linkedin by Mike Sutton

Monthly Productivity Tips – March 2016


Welcome to the Productivity Tips summary series.

Every Monday, a select group of subscribers get a single, actionable productivity tip to help them get their week started off right.

Once a month, we aggregate the last month’s tips into one blog post to share with the rest of the world.

If you would like to get the tips  – hot off the press and into your inbox every Monday – simply subscribe using the form on the right.

In the meantime, we hope you find these tips useful and we’d love to hear how you have put them into action.


#1: The Law of Two Feet


(by Harrison Owen)

Spoiler: “Leave a meeting if you are not learning or contributing and cannot change it.”

You have feet, be prepared to use them.

At times when you’re in a meeting and feel like you aren’t learning or contributing, either change that, or use your two feet to leave.

Move somewhere else where you can make a difference, or at least not feel miserable.

Don’t blame the meeting, the conference organiser or the colleague that talks too much and not letting you voice your opinion. “Responsibility resides with the individual”.

Image credit: pexels


#2 : Keep it short, sharp and visual.


Spoiler: Have short meetings around a large whiteboard, no seating and have plenty of markers.

Long meetings eat up resources and most importantly: employee productivity. If you need to drag your employees frequently out of their flow to be in meetings (maybe even daily like in Scrum), you’re best keeping the meetings short, energised and highly collaborative.

We’ve been doing that very well with a simple meeting space with a large whiteboard, no chairs, and plenty of markers in various colours.


Large whiteboard? To help ideas to flow and develop freely.Everyone can gather round it and see the ‘whole picture’.

No chairs? So everyone can stand and stay energised and achy feet are a great natural reminder that your meeting is going on for too long!

Colourful markers? To use on the whiteboard (doh!).

Visual learners account for over 60% of the population, so chances are your meeting participants will retain more and collaborate better.

Fun fact: The author of this picture Dom Sagolla said:”This picture was taken in the middle of our reinvention and creation of Twitter.”

What are you waiting for, use this tip right away!

Image credit: Dom Sagolla 


#3: Answer recorder = Question Asker = Answer Summariser


Have the question asker summarise and record the answer

Spoiler: Amplify learning and understanding by requesting the person who asked the question to summarise the answer they got and record it for others.

I know getting people to ask questions in the workplace is already hard enough, but what if you want to make the most out of every question being asked and bring collective learning onto a completely different level?

In meetings, you encounter questions being asked over and over again, especially by the same people.

This is caused by information from answers not retained, or unclear answers and incomplete follow-up questions.

By getting the person who asked the question to verbally summarise the answer and record it on the key-points you get increased clarity, better distribution of effort and questioner satisfaction all at once.

Try it and see.

P.S. In the meeting canvas, use the Key Points section to record your questions and answers. Print out the pdf and you got a nice record for the future.

Image credit: Innovation School 


#4 Get Emails Out Of Your Way


Spoiler: Block certain hour per day for only emails or use InboxPause 

Emails are getting in the way of you being productive? Checking emails several times a day can interfere with your focus.

One way to solve this is to separate answering emails from focused work.

If you are disciplined, you could block your calendar for a certain hour a day to check and respond to emails, no exception.

A bit short on discipline? Then you could use something like InboxPause, which pauses your inbox from receiving new emails. Emails can still be sent out but you won’t get any until you hit “Unpause”.

Whichever you try, good luck with controlling email this week. We’d love to hear what worked for you.

Image credit: Leonard J Matthews


#5: Speak only when you can improve the silence


Spoiler: Keep the agenda and purpose in mind, speak only when you can improve the silence.

We have the problem of some meeting attendees not contributing enough and the added problem of other participants talking too much. This can derail meetings , making them take longer and distract from the purpose.

Like in any social settings, the talkers often influence others and assume the role of opinion leaders
The quantity of interaction is commonly used as a gauge of influence – so much so that Klout (https://klout.com) that gauges your ‘influence score’ by your social media interactions, blogging activities, etc. Of course there are people gaming the system.

This is not be a game, quality should beat quantity.

As a participant in any purposeful conversation you can improve both your influence and the value of the conversation for everyone by speaking when you truly believe it will improve the silence.

Speak only when you can improve the silence – Jim Estill

Image credit: Bea