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Meeting Details: Methods to Instrument Meetings and Use Agenda Voting to Make Them More Effective

TitleMeeting Details: Methods to Instrument Meetings and Use Agenda Voting to Make Them More Effective
Publication TypeTechnical Report
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsGarcia, ACristina B, Kunz, J, Fischer, M
Date Published08/2003
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsCenter for Integrated Facility Engineering, CIFE, Group Behavior, Group Work, Mechanism Design, Meeting Agenda, Meeting Effectiveness, Meeting Tasks, Meetings, Stanford University, VCG, Vickrey-Clarke-Groves
AbstractMeetings are important part of group work. Nevertheless, participants often find that they waste group time and effort. We report results of a study in which we look in detail at the tasks performed in meetings, classify them as Descriptive, Explanative, Evaluative, Predictive, Alternative formulation, Negotiative, or Decisive (DEEPAND). Further, we classify these task types as strictly value adding for the client or not, and we found that large fractions of observed meeting time added little value. From our observations, we inferred that the meeting agenda was a key element to allow efficient meetings. More than 30% of the agenda topics concern simply sharing project information; consequently asynchronous communication would be more appropriated. We then propose a mechanism, based on the VCG (Vickrey-Clarke-Groves) mechanism from game theory, to help project managers create a more effective agenda. We present preliminary results from an industrial test case that show an improvement of 30% in both instrumented and perceived meeting quality as reported by participants, while simultaneously reducing meeting duration significantly. We consider these results to be strong suggestive evidence that the agenda planning method can improve the effectiveness, efficiency and cost of group work during meetings. We find that participants can remove most items that can be asynchronously communicated, while still guaranteeing official acknowledgment from the group of their existence. The agenda mechanism we use works because it clarifies the group assessment of item relevance, and it helps individuals within the group to see the penalties for excessive entry of agenda items.
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