The Mother of Protracted PowerPoints

Peter Bregman writes an interesting post in the HBR blog about wasted time in large organisation.

He points out that employees of large organisations spend hours and hours with “unnecessary meetings, unimportant emails, and protracted PowerPoints”.

He suggests a three question test to guide us on whether or not we should become involved:

1.  Am I the right person?
2.  Is this the right time?
3.  Do I have enough information?

If the answer to any of these is no, push back.

Most interesting though was his diagnosis on root cause.  He believes that we are too helpful and fall over ourselves to get involved with things that are not our business.

I spent some time with an operation a couple of weeks ago that had exactly the same problem.  They spent their entire time (right to the last man) working exceptions, double keying data and checking information.  None of it was productive; all of it was wasting their time.  It was the mother of protracted PowerPoints.  And the reason why all this time and money was being thrown down the drain?  The operations guys kept on being helpful, they kept on saying “don’t worry, we can do that”.

So here are three questions of my own:

1.  Should this be automated?
2.  Is the work error free?
3.  Am I doing somebody else’s job?

If the answer to any of these is no, push back.

You won’t be thanked in the short term, as somebody will have to fix the problem, but over the long haul…

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