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Workers everywhere spend too much time attending business meetings. But maybe there’s a better way. We wonder aloud if a few simple upgrades to Microsoft Outlook could reduce the number of meetings we attend, while making others more productive and less time-consuming.
To: Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft Corp.
From: Holger Reisinger, SVP, Jabra
Subject: Proposed changes to Outlook to improve business productivity
I know that you’re busy, but I really need your help.
In fact, companies worldwide and their workers need it — desperately.
As you know, one of the biggest sources of lost productivity in today’s workplace is the proliferation of unnecessary meetings. As I mentioned in a previous blog, it’s a problem that costs U.S. companies alone some $37 billion annually.
The fact is, too many companies worldwide suffer from a “meeting culture”. That’s a corporate environment where workers instinctively book a meeting anytime they need to solve a problem—usually with little thought to alternative ways of resolving the issue. It’s a human behavior that’s almost impossible to break. Believe me, I’ve tried.
While discussing how to overcome the issue with our New Ways of Working research partner, Louise Harder, she suggested that what’s needed isn’t a major change-management initiative, but rather a change in the way we behave when setting up meetings.
This is where you come in. Your product, Microsoft Outlook, is a key enabler of this meeting madness. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Outlook. It’s a great tool for communicating—and yes, even organizing meetings when they’re absolutely necessary.
Outlook Enables Our Bad Behaviors
But the problem is, Outlook makes it too easy to set up meetings: Pick a time, select your invitees, and hit send. No need to contemplate if the meeting is really necessary or if the invitees are the right ones to resolve the issue.
Plus Outlook’s rigidity leads most organizers to book hour-long meetings when they may only need 10 minutes for a quick chat. As a result, attendees tend to while away the other 50 minutes on idle gossip or checking the latest sports scores on their smartphones.
But you and Microsoft can help resolve this issue. With a few upgrades to Outlook, you can put more work time in our schedules, liberate us from endless meetings and unleash worker productivity across the globe.
Fewer, But More Effective, Meetings
Here’s what I propose:
Satya, it’s clear that we need a new way of organizing meetings for greater clarity, productivity and results. Your company can help make it happen. I hope you’re as excited about these ideas as I am, and I’d be happy to discuss this proposal with you in greater detail.
I’ll schedule the meeting.
With this open letter to Microsoft, I hope to inspire others to join the fight against non-productive practices in the modern office. Do you have ideas on meeting variants for the new Outlook or suggestions on how to achieve better collaboration? If so, please leave them in Comments section below.