A couple of years ago, I made up a new unit to measure the efficiency and necessity of meetings: APH (Avoided Person-Hours) Let me explain it. “Avoidable Work” is work that is not necessary, wrong, and wasted and it should be avoided.

  • Sometimes parties and stakeholders are not on the same page.
  • Sometimes customers’ request is misunderstood.
  • Sometimes other forms of communication are slow and inefficent.

And many more issues that all lead to wasted hours of avoidable work.

How many unnecessary person-hours does holding a meeting can help you to avoid in the future?

I remember once a customer asked us to add a feature. It sounded like a reasonable request and would take 2-3 months of work. But they hadn’t told us why they needed that feature. We met with them to understand the bigger picture and design the system to accommodate the probable future requests. We realized that what they wanted to do was already possible with the existing features. So with a 1-hour meeting, we avoided 2-3 months of work. That was a valuable meeting and a precious lesson.

For each meeting, ask yourself:

  • How many unnessary person-hours can you avoid by that meeting?
  • Could that avoidable work have been avoided in other ways? Chat? Email? Shared doc?
  • Could you avoid even more unnecessary person-hours?
  • How can you avoid similar type of avoidable work in the future without having to have another meeting like this?

Measuring meetings’ APH not only allows you to decide if a meeting is required or not, it also helps you to choose the form, participants, and agenda to maximize yout meeting’s APH.