You Just Spent $1,000 on a $40 Problem

Imagine this all-too common scenario; you’re dragged into a meeting setup by another manager who said “We have a problem and we need to meet right away!”  They don’t tell you what it is, what the impacts are, or what the outcome should be.  You sit down and realize immediately this 10 person meeting could have been handled by a 2 person hallway conversation.  Next thing you know, people spin a $40 issue into something bigger, only to have them come around and realize it’s not that big of a deal after all.  Finally, you actually have to ask if we accomplished the meeting goal and leave.

This scenario plays out everyday in meeting rooms around the world.  Someone will see a small, direct expense, as a reason to sound alarms and call meetings without considering the cost.

I like quantifying the price of meetings because there is an opportunity cost associated with time.  I use $100 an hour per person.  This is ball-parked adding a fully capitalized employee (salary, benefits, retirement, equipment, licenses, etc) and productivity loss of working on something else (something that has ROI).  So if there are 10 people in a room for an hour, that’s a $1,000.

I have to justify every spend I make, even $40, but no one seems to bat an eye calling a pointless meeting.  Don’t be that person that makes a small discussion into a costly one for no reason.  If you quantify and call that out in unimportant meetings, maybe someone will get the hint they’re actually costing the company money.


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