Death by Meeting

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders News , August 22, 2007

Did you know that a backlash against meetings is emerging in the business world? Organizations are putting meeting-free days on the calendar and canceling all meetings that don't have a direct impact on achieving strategic goals. Instead, they're asking employees to spend that time thinking of new ways to make their customers happy. No one actually knows anyone who works at these organizations. But you hear stories.

I think that it's especially hard to get a good backlash going against meetings in the healthcare world, where an emphasis on collaboration and information-sharing actually saves people's lives. But what about in non-clinical areas, such as marketing, communications, business development and physician relations? Is anyone making any progress in these fields?

In fact, they are. In her forthcoming book on physician relations (that I edited for HealthLeaders Media), Kriss Barlow notes that the field reps at best-practice organizations aren't spending all their time in-house presenting status reports and market overviews.

Do you know where the field reps are? Out in the field, doing what they do best: Meeting face-to-face with physicians in order to get their referrals and grow business. Why would you put so much effort into finding, hiring and training the best physician relations representatives--the people who really know how to do this job well--and then ask them to spend all their time in meetings?

The best-practice organizations in Barlow's book, which comes out this fall, understand this. And that gives me hope for the rest of us. Are you sick of sitting in meetings? What are you doing about this at your organization? Drop me a line at the address below. Meanwhile, I'd love to talk about this more, but I have to run to a meeting.

Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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