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Passion, People and Principles

The IQ of a Meeting

post # 217 — October 18, 2006 — a Careers, Managing post

Today’s blogpost is from “The Best of The Corporate Curmudgeon”, 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

Let’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 agonizingly… 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 let’s start with a score for meetings of 100 and then add and subtract from that. We’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

• Minus the number of cell phone rings,

• Minus the number of Blackberries in the room (times ten),

• Minus double the number of fluorescent tubes lighting the room,

• Minus the distance, in feet, between the two farthest participants,

• Minus 50 points if there are rules (formal or informal) about

who sits where,

• Plus triple the number of times the highest-ranking person in

the room makes a note of something said in the meeting,

• Plus the number of magazine subscriptions by the participants,

not counting industry publications,

• Plus the number of novels read by all participants in the past

six months,

• Plus the number of minutes a lousy boss is out of the meeting,

• Plus the number of minutes a great boss is in the room,

• Minus the number of times an assistant enters the room to give/say

something to one of the participants (times ten),

• Minus the number of clichés used during the meeting (with each

“out of the box” counting as five and each PowerPoint slide

counting as an instant cliché),

• Plus the number of times the word “customer” is used,

• Minus the number of times the word “budget is used,

• Minus the number of times “hold on”, “wait a minute” or “could

you repeat that?” is used,

• Plus triple the number of genuine laughs during the meeting,

• Minus double the number of polite chuckles,

• Plus the number of workplace compliments anyone in the group has

received in the past 30 days,

• Plus the number of new ideas/experiments tried in the past six

months (times 10)

• Plus the number of years between the youngest and oldest person

in the meeting,

• Plus the number of industries worked in by all the participants,

• Plus the number of customer locations visited by people in the

room in the past 90 days.

• Plus 25 points for use of a phrase similar to “There has to be

better way,”

• Plus 50 points if the group applauds an idea,

• Plus 100 points if someone says “We need to come up with

something truly unique.”

As you can see from this list, it’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? That’s how they make neon lights.


Heidi said:


posted on October 18, 2006

Linas Simonis said:


Must be printed and posted on every meeting room (for those, who don’t read this blog).

posted on October 18, 2006

Bill Peper said:

One can subscribe to Dale’s monthly newsletter on his home page, http://www.dauten.com/. As I have mentioned several times in various threads, Dale’s books are sensational. I assign Better than Perfect to all of my clients. Although I do not care for business fables as a rule, that book is my favorite business title (and I read a lot.)

After David’s own heart, Dale has offered an unconditional money back guarantee on satisfaction with his books. Every one is highly recommended.

posted on October 18, 2006

MillionDollarCountDown said:

Very good post. I can totally relate to it. BTW, can’t recall where but some one offered a simpler definition

MIQ = 1/square of number of partcipants

But this number can’t go negative :)

posted on November 7, 2006