Mike Dawson

Engineering Manager

ZF Group



ZF NA approached The Legacy Leadership Consulting Group to find ways to reduce the unproductive time spent in meetings. A survey of the Div A NA Engineering and Purchasing teams in Q1 2023 showed that employees were wasting an average of 5.8 hours a week attending meetings that did not bring value to them.

The challenge was to find a way to reduce the number of hours employees felt were wasted in meetings by 50% to less than 3 hours per week.


After considering several solutions, during our Legacy Leadership Lab, we recommended implementing structured agendas for meetings and using the Microsoft Outlook ‘shorten meeting duration’ setting to automatically schedule 25/50-minute meetings.

The first Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle involved the NA Steering Engineering Project Managers distributing meeting agendas 24 hours before the start of each meeting. The second PDSA cycle included the NA Steering Purchasing team. The final experiment was to have meeting organizers modify the default duration of meetings to 25 or 50 minutes using the Outlook “Shorten Appointments and Meetings” feature.


By implementing these solutions, ZF NA was able to provide employees with four more hours of productive time each week. The use of agendas and reduced meetings to a 25/50-minute timetable has shown a positive result in the effectiveness perception from the meeting organizers and participants.

Agendas are also a critical element that allows participants to understand meeting objectives, define participants, and align the meeting with a proper timetable. These elements increase the efficiency of how key objectives of the meeting are covered and the time employees have to focus on items outside meeting saturation on their calendars.

The meeting owners are responsible for ensuring that the resources required for a meeting are properly addressed and defined in the meeting agenda. Scheduling shorter meetings emphasizes keeping to the agenda and keeping the meeting on time. Even when the meetings ran overtime, there was still buffer time before the next meeting started, allowing the next meeting to start on time.

The Legacy Leadership Lab was able to help ZF NA find solutions to reduce unproductive time spent in meetings, resulting in four more hours of productive time each week.

Using structured agendas and shortened meeting durations has positively impacted the effectiveness perception of meeting organizers and participants. These solutions have also improved the efficiency of how key objectives of meetings are covered while allowing employees to focus on other tasks outside of the meeting saturation on their calendars.