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Meeting costs to American businesses as a result of poorly run meetings (typically unstructured) continue to rise. Surveys indicate that on average managers waste:

  • 8.5 hours per week for low level management
  • 10.4 hours per week for middle level management
  • 11.5 hours per week for senior level management

As a strong and effective facilitator, you need to use a structured technique such as MG RUSH that wraps around RAD (Rapid Application Development), Lean, Scrum, and all other structured methodologies to reduce meeting costs. In Joint Application Development, Jane Wood and Denise Silver cite the following testimonials to the benefits of structured meetings and reduced meeting costs.

Structure Minimizes Meeting Costs

Unstructured Meeting Costs Rise: Use an MG RUSH Structured Technique

Structure Your Meetings to Reduce Meeting Costs

  • Capers Jones states,

“A study of over 60 projects … showed that those projects that did not use structured meetings missed up to 35% of required functionality resulting in the need for up to 50% more code.”

  • The Capers Jones study determined that projects using structured meetings missed only 5 percent to 10 percent of required functionality with minimal impact on the code and overall reduced meeting costs.
  • A survey conducted by the Index Group of Cambridge Massachusetts concluded that

“Systems developers are operating amid turf battles, historical bickering, low credibility and the difficulty in pinning down ever-changing systems requirements.”

  • Their survey of 95 information systems development directors found that:
    • 64% say that they cannot get users in different departments to cooperate in cross-functional systems projects,
    • 78% say that coordinating efforts between end user developers and professional systems developers is a major challenge even though the number of end users developing their own systems is on the rise,
    • less than 29% say they have any long-range plans for retiring obsolete systems.
  • David Freedman states,

“How do you design a system that users really want? … You can’t. What you can do is help users design the systems they want.”

“The successful use of structured meetings has pushed its use beyond traditional applications of the process. Structured meetings are being used successfully for strategic systems and data planning, as well as for projects outside the information technology community.”—General Electric

  • In The Data Modeling Handbook, Michael C. Reingruber and William W. Gregory stress the importance of involving the customer, stating the following:

“If you do not engage business experts, your modeling efforts will fail. While there is no guarantee of success when business experts get involved, there is no chance of success if they do not.”

Secondary Sources Stress the Rise of Meeting Costs

  • Numerous articles, case studies, and studies have shown structured meetings to be “best practice.” Published benefits include:
    • Avoids bloated functionality, gold-plating, and helps designer’s delay their typical “solution fixation” until they understand the requirements better [Whi].
    • Avoids the requirements from being too specific and too vague, both of which cause trouble during implementation and acceptance [Str].
    • By properly using transition managers, and the appropriate users, typical cultural risk is mitigated while cutting implementation time by 50% [Eng].
    • Cultivate ownership, easier acceptance (buy-in) and stronger commitment by users. The involvement of business end-users is no longer advisory or consultation. It is the participation and contribution in the project development life-cycle. The more users contribute to the system, the easier for them to accept it and commit to it.
    • Enhanced communication and relationship between business end-users and information technology personnel.
    • Enhanced education for participants and observers. By participating in structured meetings and being the medium between other users and information technology, the business end-users will be kept fully informed about the progress of the system development.
    • Improved system quality and productivity. Much of the system’s quality depends on the requirements gathered. Structured meetings involve users in the development life cycle, lets users define their requirements, and thus ensures that the system developed satisfies the actual activities of the business.

Tertiary Sources Stress the Rise of Meeting Costs

    • Lays the foundation for a framework of mutual education, productive brainstorming, binding negotiation, and progress tracking [Whi].
    • One of the best ways to reduce function creep, most of which results from incomplete initial requirements [Ant]. Capers Jones states that structured meetings reduces function creep by 50%, and when used with prototyping, creep is reduced by another 10-25% [Str].
    • Reduced system cost. Most of the system development costs are man-hours of both system developers and business users involved. Reduced development time reduces the labor cost for developers, as well as users. Important steps like requirement gathering compels the involvement and commitment of business area experts. The cost of taking them away from their daily operation is very high. Structured meetings can reduce the involvement time of these business experts and hence reduce the cost further. Reduce costs by  by catching errors, misunderstandings, and mistakes early in the development phrase. Studies show that a majority of system errors result from early analysis errors, and the earlier these errors get corrected, the much less they will cost.  Structured meetings let designers and users work together in the very early of the development cycle, defining the scope, requirements of projects, and resolving conflicts among different user groups. Structure puts efforts early in the life cycle in order to improve the quality and increase productivity and to reduce cost.
    • Reduced system development time. In structured meetings, information can be obtained and validated in a shorter time frame by involving all participants (or at least a representative set of participants) who have a stake in the outcome of the session. Structured meetings eliminate process delays and reduce application development time between 20% to 50%.
    • Saves time, eliminates process delays and misunderstandings, and improves system quality [Hol].

Here are some of the sources:

  • [Eng] Engler, Natalie. “Bringing in the Users”.
  • [Fin] Fine, Doug. “Information Technology Staff Move into Business Units”.
  • [Gar] Garner, Rochelle. “Why JAD Goes Bad”.
  • [Hol] Hollander, Nathan, Naomi Mirlocca. “Facilitated Workshops: Empowering the User to Develop Quality Systems Faster”.
  • [Kno] Knowles, Anne. “Peace Talks: Joint Application Development”.
  • [Lev] Leventhal, Naomi. “Using Groupware Tools to Automate Joint Application Development”.
  • [Str] Strehlo, Kevin. “Catching Up with the Joneses and ‘Requirement’ Creep”.
  • [Whi] Whitmore, Sam. “Readers Shed Development Woes”.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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