Money Lost from Wasteful Meetings Dwarfs any Bailout

Courtesy of

I made the statement this week that the amount of money lost from wasteful meetings dwarfs any bailout that the US has received. But, is that a true statement. I don’t know….but I intend to find out live during this post.

I know that 5/4 people aren’t good at math….but let’s do some math.

An estimate of the number of people currently living in the US is 313,623,655. How many of those people are working? Wow…..Wiki suggests that we only have 131 million people working in this country. Could that be correct? What’s the rest of the folks doing? Ok, let’s use that number.

The per capita income according to the US consensus is $27,334.

131,000,000 multiplied by 27,334 is 3,580,754,000,000. Let’s call it 3.6 trillion. That means, that every working person in the US earns 298,396,000,000 per month. As a wise person once said, a billion here, and a billion there and eventually you are talking about a lot of money.

If you believe that 30% of our time is spent in some form of meeting. Then 1,074,226,200,000 is the annual cost of meetings. A meeting is defined as getting together with 2 or more people with some desired result or outcome. If 10% of every meeting is wasted, then 107,422,620,000 is our figure. If you believe it is 20%, then the figure is around 214,845,240,000. Now let’s look at the amount spent on the bailout.

It turns out TARP, the most famous bailout was 700 billion. So it would take 3-6 years of wasteful meetings to equal a TARP bailout. Guess I exaggerated a little, but I didn’t say over what time period. Good thing we didn’t make a wager (sticking tongue out in defiance).

Wait…..Wait….stop the presses. Stop the printing….. New information has just come in.

It turns out that only $602 billion went out the door, and 306 billion has been returned according to this site. Therefore, 214 billion is the net still outstanding as of May 21, 2012. Therefore, if you believe that 20% of meeting time is wasted, then my figure is correct! Woo Hoo!

What is your opinion?

  • Love the data and numbers that you put into the context of meetings… This would make for a killer infographic. What are you doing to market this?

    • Thanks buddy….Have you done any infographics? Perhaps I’ll suggest it to the person who does our graphics.

    • When you ask, “what are you doing to market this”, I assume you are talking about MMP. Press releases, blog posts, interviews with satisfied users, upgrading features based upon users feedback, social network including twitter, Facebook, and google+. Also soliciting partnership or co-brand with larger company who teaches facilitation skills.
      Sent from my iPad

  • PS, What’s with having two places to post comments?

    PPS, Lots of “Reactions” to this blog post already… Long live #MMP!

    • Well Jonathan…I also added a Triberr plug in. It’s a way to amplify the message of my blog posts. I think the Triberr plug in comes with the comments section. Think I should try and disable it?

  • yikes! an interesting lens on an old problem – probably as old as organised human activity.  

    But doesn’t “per capita” income mean all the money earned divided by all the people.  so I think you have to “gross up” the income by 314/131 to get the per worker income, in other words $65,518.  This of course makes the problem worse and I think more than compensates for your last paragraph correction.

    btw I am writing on managing (eliminating) waste in project teams in my blog would be interested in your thoughts. Also on twitter @madman_42

  • Adam, thanks for your comments!  Assuming the average salary cost of working American’s is 65,518 X 130,000,000 which totals 8,517,340,000,000.  Assuming that 30% of time is spent in some form of meeting, the total cost of meetings is 2,555,202,000,000.  Assuming that 10% of the time could be saved, we are wasting 255,520,200,000 on wasteful meetings?  What percentage of the time is being wasted at meetings at your company?