4Minutes to save the world

At SustainableSystems, we help organizations save time. Time is the most valuable resource in any organization today and every time we can optimize a decision making process, automate a workflow or increase trust between manager and employees, we are saving valuable time, which makes the organization as a whole more effective.

One of our products was born out of our desire to help our clients save time; 4Minutes, the add-in to Microsoft Outlook. It is a simple tool that cuts meetings shorter. Why?

Well, it all began 4 years ago at a meeting, when a VP of one of Europe’s largest energy companies admitted that he was always late for meetings. He went on to explain that because his schedule was usually packed with back-to-back meetings it was almost impossible for him, not to fall behind during a normal day: “if one meeting goes off track all of them do”. It happened all the time, he said, and when he was late for a meeting there would usually be 4-5 highly skilled and highly paid engineers that sitting in the meeting room waiting for him.

Due to the way that meetings were set up in his calendar, three problems ensued:

  1. Demotivation – No one likes to wait around for other people. It is frustrating to sit in a meeting room knowing that your time is clearly not as important as the one person that we are all waiting for.
  2. Low morale – When employees start to feel that managers disrespect their time and show up late for meetings, they too will start showing up late for meetings. This is toxic for an organization and will cause anarchy with everyone showing up late, confusion about when to actually start the meeting (how long do we wait, and whom do we wait for?) and ultimately make it impossible to call an effective meeting.
  3. Wasted productivity – Waiting to start a meeting is time wasted from getting actual work done. The cost of letting expensive engineers sit around and waste they time is highly underestimated in most organizations, and one of those many little hidden cost structures where you could easily save some money. In this case, we calculated that the company lost 2500 USD a year per engineer waiting for a meeting to start.

4Minutes has been on the market for more than four years now; helping companies of all sizes all over the world optimize their meeting systems, save time and focus on the things that matter. It is the only application on the market that allows users to change the length of any meeting in Microsoft Outlook.

And how did we come up with the name for our tool? A minimum of 4 minutes would have to be taken out of each meeting in order for the VP to be on time and keep up with his busy schedule. Coincidently the same amount of time in Madonna’s song 4 minutes “to save the world”

This is the story of 4Minutes, what is your memorable meeting story that you would like to share?

Is your Meeting Culture anarchistic or fascistic?

The work space itself is changing too; first we moved from cubicles to open office and now it seems we are moving back to cubicles (albeit they are now trendy, fabric-covered designer boxes or green-wall solutions). More companies have started to design the work space to reflect their (designed) company culture and never before has the work place been so purposefully designed to impact employee behaviour and make them feel and perform better at work.

So why is it that our meeting culture seems to stay the same? Some organizations are rigid in starting meetings on time. Some teams are great at ending meetings on time. Others start their meetings when everyone’s arrived (which is rarely on time). Many meetings flow over time. Few meetings actually get to the point. Regardless whether the meeting culture is anarchistic or fascistic, ALL MEETINGS are ineffective, time killers sucking the energy out of everyone attending.

Continue reading “Is your Meeting Culture anarchistic or fascistic?”