Value Proposition for the Expensive Meeting

Value Proposition for the Expensive Meeting

I got a lot of feedback from people after they read of my $17,902 meeting post.  I spoke to a few others in my office and they all agreed that the number sounded plausible. As I’m writing my proposal for corrective action, I will deliver it in the form of a value proposition.

A value proposition is an analysis and quantified review of the benefits, costs and value that “something” an organization can deliver to customers and other constituent groups within and outside of the organization. It is also a positioning of value, where Value = Benefits / Cost (cost includes risk).  (Thank you Wikipedia for basis of that definition)

But, it’s not as simple deliverable.

I use 7 stages of analysis.

  • Customer or market – Who am I creating the value proposition for?
  • Customer or market value – What do they say they value? (not what I say they value)
  • Offering – What is the product or service being proposed?
  • Benefits – What are the benefits? (Time, Money, Productivity,…)
  • Alternatives – What substitutes or alternatives are there? (like doing nothing)
  • Differentiation – How is my proposal different from anything else being offered?
  • Proof – What evidence do I have that I can do what you say?

In this case, I’m going to request a formal review of the Communications Plan, modifying it if necessary.  Because this is a status meeting (which is about reporting by one-way communication) not everyone needs to be there in person.  Before I go deep into my analysis, I’m going to bet I can apply the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) to get my point across.

If we do not devalue the benefit of the meeting, we can increase the overall value by decreasing cost.  That decreasing of cost, I would propose, would be asking 32 out of the 40 people to not attend the meeting in person.  By having 8 key linchpins (as defined by Seth Godin) attend this meeting, we could ensure the status is delivered and the message is not lost.

Other indirect communication methods could be used to ensure the information is distributed.  The slide deck and meeting minutes could be posted to a central location, allowing those who didn’t attend the meeting in person to know what happened.  Whatever the final outcome, there is a big opportunity for cost savings.

Graphic: Pictofigo

14 Replies to “Value Proposition for the Expensive Meeting”

  1. From my experience status meetings do have a value proposition, even with inflated attendance numbers. Posting slides, notes, project status, etc. is all well and good — if people can be counted on to read them. In today’s busy world that is a risky assumption at best.

    A project manager needs to call out and highlight obviously out-of-bound information — “we are going to be 2 months late” or “10% over budget”. Aside from that kind of obvious information there is usually a wealth of small decisions in a project status meeting. Small today, small in the eyes of the project manager, but maybe not small to one of the 40 attendees. A few weeks/months later a senior manager may be asking “why are we doing X” when X was posted in the slides and nobody noticed. Avoiding that risk may well be work the $17k price tag of the meeting.

    Attendance doesn’t guarantee attention, but you are more likely to get attention from a meeting attendee than someone who is just another CC on a status email.

    1. Mike, thank you for adding your input.
      I would agree that there is some value to this meeting. But, there are probably half a dozen of us who attend the monthly status meeting who also attend a weekly status meeting. The monthly status meeting slide deck is nothing more than the weekly slide decks merged together. The weekly status meeting is a convergence of functional area meetings with an executive overview and schedule. The independent functional areas are asked to review the weekly slide decks for accuracy and provide their feedback. I can tell you that the only people who speak up during the monthly status meetings are the same people who attend the weekly status meeting. I am one of those people.

  2. From my experience status meetings do have a value proposition, even with inflated attendance numbers. Posting slides, notes, project status, etc. is all well and good — if people can be counted on to read them. In today’s busy world that is a risky assumption at best.

    A project manager needs to call out and highlight obviously out-of-bound information — “we are going to be 2 months late” or “10% over budget”. Aside from that kind of obvious information there is usually a wealth of small decisions in a project status meeting. Small today, small in the eyes of the project manager, but maybe not small to one of the 40 attendees. A few weeks/months later a senior manager may be asking “why are we doing X” when X was posted in the slides and nobody noticed. Avoiding that risk may well be work the $17k price tag of the meeting.

    Attendance doesn’t guarantee attention, but you are more likely to get attention from a meeting attendee than someone who is just another CC on a status email.

    1. Mike, thank you for adding your input.
      I would agree that there is some value to this meeting. But, there are probably half a dozen of us who attend the monthly status meeting who also attend a weekly status meeting. The monthly status meeting slide deck is nothing more than the weekly slide decks merged together. The weekly status meeting is a convergence of functional area meetings with an executive overview and schedule. The independent functional areas are asked to review the weekly slide decks for accuracy and provide their feedback. I can tell you that the only people who speak up during the monthly status meetings are the same people who attend the weekly status meeting. I am one of those people.

  3. I like the approach to value the meetings. I do agree with Mike, status meeting- if done right- are valuable. Does it take 2 hours? No.

    The fact is meetings cost money and being aware of how much you are using for each meeting may help you make the meetings as valuable as the time used.

    Great post. Thanks

    1. Perry, communications is very important to me. Whatever means can deliver information to me, I’ll take it and worry about the efficiency later. When delivering a status report, I think you need to know your audience. In this case, there was so much granular data presented that it went over the heads of about 99% of the people in the room. A high level brief of the budget, schedule, and milestones would have been enough. The vendor could have spoken to risks or quality as well. Unfortunately, 1 slide out of the 133 slide deck caused a 15 minute debate about how the vendor arrived at a specific CPI on a specific CLIN. That question should have been asked at a different meeting and didn’t benefit the audience as a whole.

      This meeting used to be a solid 3 hours. They’ve trimmed it down to 2.5 hours. It needs to be 1 hour maximum.
      There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. The meeting is effective. It is grossly under-efficient. There lies the opportunity.

      Thank you for adding your comment!
      You’re making me think a lot harder about this.

  4. I like the approach to value the meetings. I do agree with Mike, status meeting- if done right- are valuable. Does it take 2 hours? No.

    The fact is meetings cost money and being aware of how much you are using for each meeting may help you make the meetings as valuable as the time used.

    Great post. Thanks

    1. Perry, communications is very important to me. Whatever means can deliver information to me, I’ll take it and worry about the efficiency later. When delivering a status report, I think you need to know your audience. In this case, there was so much granular data presented that it went over the heads of about 99% of the people in the room. A high level brief of the budget, schedule, and milestones would have been enough. The vendor could have spoken to risks or quality as well. Unfortunately, 1 slide out of the 133 slide deck caused a 15 minute debate about how the vendor arrived at a specific CPI on a specific CLIN. That question should have been asked at a different meeting and didn’t benefit the audience as a whole.

      This meeting used to be a solid 3 hours. They’ve trimmed it down to 2.5 hours. It needs to be 1 hour maximum.
      There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. The meeting is effective. It is grossly under-efficient. There lies the opportunity.

      Thank you for adding your comment!
      You’re making me think a lot harder about this.

    1. Laura, I will be meeting with the customer about this. We’ve already talked via telephone. There is value in ensuring people are informed as to the overall status of the project. But these meeting have been going on for so long, I think the client may have forgot the purpose and the vendor has forgot the audience. Perhaps this is an opportunity to take a fresh look at all of the meetings currently taking place for the project.

    1. Laura, I will be meeting with the customer about this. We’ve already talked via telephone. There is value in ensuring people are informed as to the overall status of the project. But these meeting have been going on for so long, I think the client may have forgot the purpose and the vendor has forgot the audience. Perhaps this is an opportunity to take a fresh look at all of the meetings currently taking place for the project.

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