22 Jan Frustration with Unproductive Burden

We have all heard the complaint about too many meetings, unproductive conference calls, pointless reporting, administrative busy work etc.   On the other hand, even the strongest critic will acknowledge that a degree of these forms of administrative activity are necessary.

In our view the simple problem is that in too many organizations, these administrative activities are just not done very well.  This is somewhat surprising considering the effort that companies will invest in determining the best way to produce their product, the best way to maintain their equipment or the best way to close a sale.  So with all the effort that goes into optimizing the activity that takes place on the shop floor it seems incongruous that administrative activities fail to get the same attention.  Why is it that a maintenance tradesman is expected to follow the standard operating pr is not held accountable when they run a meeting without a clear purpo
se, agenda or outcome

The underlying problem in companies with ineffective administrative activities is rarely a lack of knowledge.  Many people have received training on running effective meetings and people recognize when they are in an ineffective meeting. The more common root causes include:

  • A reluctance to set expectations in the administrative context (i.e. it is expected that a supervisor will tell a tradesman what to work on, but it may feel incongruous to give an engineer feedback on their meeting prep).
  • A lack of alignment between administrative activity and business results, and not taking action to remedy problems with a perceived low value activity.

Assisting organizations facing administrative burden involves aligning activities with business results, setting expectation around practices and coaching appropriate staff through the change process.