Perhaps it’s because I’m waiting the infinity it takes for my video from last Monday’s Talks about the Future of Tech in Planning to upload, or maybe it’s because my own tolerance for stupid meetings hit the limit during my years at a Really Really Big Freakin engineering firm, where the stupid meeting… you get the idea. But this awesome and fully tongue-in-cheek little calculator does a beautiful job of showing what we all know: when we require a meeting, we’re using limited resources (people’s time), and there’s a cost to that. And too often that cost far exceeds the value of what anyone is getting out of it.
But I’m not just pointing you to this to be silly. As snarky as it is, the principle here applies to our public meetings too.
The people who come to your public meetings have lots of other things that they could be doing. And whether those other things include work for pay, or other activities, they know that they have to give up something else in order to come to your meeting. Economists call that kind of choice an opportunity cost — the value that you forfeited when you gave up something else to make that choice. We talk about both public meetings and opportunity costs a lot in the book.
What’s the value of the something else that they have to give up to come to your meeting?
How much does the way we run those meetings indicate that we understand that they gave something else up to be here?
Is there a risk that the way we do these public meetings…. means that we only get the people who don’t have something more valuable to do?
Perhaps we should be using the Cost of Meeting Calculator when we’re trying to decide how to do our jobs, too.