The IQ of a Meeting
Todayâ€™s blogpost is from â€œThe Best of The Corporate Curmudgeonâ€, a syndicated column by by Dale Dauten
(Thanks to Bill Peper for drawing it to my attention)
“When the outcome of a meeting is to have another meeting, it has been a lousy meeting.”
— Herbert Hoover
Letâ€™s say you attend, on average, two meetings per workday. That would be about 500 meetings a year, or, if aggregated over a forty-year career, 20,000 meetings — a thought that could make anyone want to reach for the black capsule of death and hope for something better on the next plane of existence.
What got me thinking about meetings was sitting in one so tedious that I had time to do ridiculous calculations, such as the number of meetings in a career. And I also had time to recall that handful of meetings where the minds in the room caught fire, where ideas were spiraling toward group genius.
What made those meetings special, and what makes the average one so agonizinglyâ€¦ well, average? I spent the rest of the meeting trying to work out the formula for the group IQ of the meeting.
The calculation of Intelligence Quotient is standardized, so that 100 is the mean, so letâ€™s start with a score for meetings of 100 and then add and subtract from that. Weâ€™re after mental energy and the goal is to quantify the types of places and people that hum with energy and ones that suck the life-force right out of you.
MEETING IQ (or MIQ) = 100
â€¢ Minus the number of cell phone rings,
â€¢ Minus the number of Blackberries in the room (times ten),
â€¢ Minus double the number of fluorescent tubes lighting the room,
â€¢ Minus the distance, in feet, between the two farthest participants,
â€¢ Minus 50 points if there are rules (formal or informal) about
who sits where,
â€¢ Plus triple the number of times the highest-ranking person in
the room makes a note of something said in the meeting,
â€¢ Plus the number of magazine subscriptions by the participants,
not counting industry publications,
â€¢ Plus the number of novels read by all participants in the past
â€¢ Plus the number of minutes a lousy boss is out of the meeting,
â€¢ Plus the number of minutes a great boss is in the room,
â€¢ Minus the number of times an assistant enters the room to give/say
something to one of the participants (times ten),
â€¢ Minus the number of clichés used during the meeting (with each
â€œout of the boxâ€ counting as five and each PowerPoint slide
counting as an instant cliché),
â€¢ Plus the number of times the word â€œcustomerâ€ is used,
â€¢ Minus the number of times the word â€œbudget is used,
â€¢ Minus the number of times â€œhold onâ€, â€œwait a minuteâ€ or â€œcould
you repeat that?â€ is used,
â€¢ Plus triple the number of genuine laughs during the meeting,
â€¢ Minus double the number of polite chuckles,
â€¢ Plus the number of workplace compliments anyone in the group has
received in the past 30 days,
â€¢ Plus the number of new ideas/experiments tried in the past six
months (times 10)
â€¢ Plus the number of years between the youngest and oldest person
in the meeting,
â€¢ Plus the number of industries worked in by all the participants,
â€¢ Plus the number of customer locations visited by people in the
room in the past 90 days.
â€¢ Plus 25 points for use of a phrase similar to â€œThere has to be
â€¢ Plus 50 points if the group applauds an idea,
â€¢ Plus 100 points if someone says â€œWe need to come up with
something truly unique.â€
As you can see from this list, itâ€™s entirely possible, likely even, to have a negative Meeting IQ score. When this happens, the IQs of all attendees are diminished by about ten percent for the rest of the day. Repeated exposure may cause a permanent reduction in IQ.
In other words, bad meetings are an intelligence suction device, pulling mental energy out of organizations. Where does all that lost IQ go? Thatâ€™s how they make neon lights.