Too Many Opinions

Sorry some of my recent posts have been re-posts…but when stuff is worth sharing, its worth re-posting! Anyway here is a post from Future Fundraising Now on why things can get off the mark in meetings…oh its so true!

A great article in Inc. magazine asks if you’ve ever invited employees to a meeting just so they wouldn’t feel left out. If you’re at a nonprofit organization, you probably have, eh? A Little Less Conversation looks at the real cost of overcommunicating.

Think of it this way: Every time you add another person to a project, the more communication it takes just to keep everyone in the know. Before long, what used to be days spent making progress on the project is days just keeping up with the chatter.

There’s a mathematical reason for this. Each person you add creates not just one person worth of connection; there’s a multiplier effect. The formula for the number of connections is this: (n²-n)/2. That’s bad, because it works out like this:

People Connections
1 0
2 1
3 3
4 6
5 10
6 15
7 21
8 28
9 36
10 45

You can see where this goes. How do you escape the madness?… you need to design ways to reduce communications paths. Eliminate companywide mailing lists — or at least charge $1.50 to post to them. Stop having large meetings. You need a culture in which people don’t get uptight because they weren’t included in a meeting, which means you need a culture that rewards people for doing their jobs and frowns on meddling in other people’s work.

 Nonprofits are notorious for trying to get the consensus of every possible person for decisions. It’s a weight around our neck. If you value innovation, if you value quality, if you just value your life — you’ll keep the noise down by limiting the number of people involved in your projects.


4 thoughts on “Too Many Opinions

  1. I can so agree with this. having worked for a very very large charity for 17 years, I was constantly frustrated by the amount of time spent in meetings, mainly in ‘working party’ meetings, where everyone had a say, and no decisions ever seemed to be made.

    It just kept getting worse and worse, especially in the department that I was in…and i ended up leaving through sheer frustration.

    • I think its why I liked the post in the first place….I could really relate to it. It is more difficult to get things done when there are more people in the room, no matter what we think, people have their own agendas. We recently saw a hosptial in Dublin go through some serious problems and it came out that there was a board of 22 people trying to run the hospital. 22 people….how many connections would that equal!!

  2. Spot on Conor. It’s quite common to see a meeting populated by all those who may be impacted by a decision rather the solely those who are responsible for making the decision. You end up with a consensus based decision making model which delivers a crap outcome.

    The worst thing about this? When it all turns to crap, the manager to abrogated their responsibility looks bewildered and say they don’t understand because we ‘consulted everyone’

    • John,
      That’s fantastic, thanks for the comment. The last line made me laugh out loud, one of those “funny because it’s true” comments

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