Speaks about management, and the techniques and life skills needed to be a successful leader
Speaking style: passionate and persuasive, laced with humour.
Respected expert on transforming the culture of business meetings
“We simply cannot go on meeting like this”
David is a fierce critic of what he calls meeting madness. In a long career in advertising, and for the last 27 years as an adviser to some of the world’s biggest companies, he says he has seen a steady deterioration in the way meetings are used. He is convinced that the dysfunctionality of meeting culture and process is a major problem that leaders need to address urgently.
“It seems that virtually every company has institutionalised saturation meetings”, he says. “Meeting rooms are booked all day long, and meetings spill over into canteens and reception areas. Electronic diaries are crammed with meetings – often back to back. The meetings go on too long, because they try to cover too much ground, and there are often far too many attendees to make a balanced contribution. I wouldn’t object so strongly if there was evidence that all these meetings achieve anything. But they seldom do. Nor is it surprising, because there is no professional meeting management function – unlike say HR, IT, finance, procurement etc. So planning is often non-existent, management of the meetings themselves is poor, and little effort is made to turn any conclusions into action.
People can only get their ‘real’ work done by getting in early, staying late, or taking work home. Stress levels are high (not helped by uncollaborative attitudes and behaviour which is often aggressive). Burn-out is common.
It is bad enough that meetings are by and large inefficient, and wasteful of the most important currencies in any organisation – time and money. What is worse is that meetings are the only way we have to work together. How do we manage change and innovation without using meetings effectively? Projects will take longer. Decisions will be delayed or scrambled. Worse still, even the best people will lose confidence in meetings as a process. They will behave worse and with less empathy – and these standards will spread beyond the conference room into the company as a whole”.
Wethey is convinced there is a solution – a far better way of organizing meetings in a company. In May 2015 he published MOTE: The Super Meeting (Urbane Publications), in which he unveiled a revolutionary approach to meeting culture and practice in large organisations. He argues passionately for a teamwork approach, with fewer, leaner, shorter, better planned meetings designed to drive change and achieve ambitious goals. He warns about the collateral damage to people created by bad meetings, quite apart from the inefficiency and colossal waste they cause.
He believes that effective leadership, decision making, corporate communications and other good things can’t happen without an outstanding meeting culture:
1. Harnessing to the full the best brains in the company to solve problems and create opportunities – thinking and working together
2. Aligning everyone via orchestrated meetings and internal communications to make sure the company comes across as confident and successful – winning together
‘Mote will change the way people work together, and how companies are managed’ he says. The book has been turned into a full scale video-based online consulting and training platform, so that companies can adopt Mote and train their own meeting professionals.
MOTE: The Super Meeting has been short listed by the CMI for Management Book of the Year.
Wethey’s previous management book was DECIDE: Better Ways of Making Better Decisions (Kogan Page 2013).
David’s business life has been in advertising and marketing consultancy. He began his career in marketing research with AC Nielsen Company. He then worked for 20 years in advertising, managing agencies in UK, Continental Europe and Asia, principally for McCann-Erickson. He was CEO of two London agencies before establishing his own – Wethey Scott Pocock – in 1980. David left the agency world to start a consulting firm Agency Assessments International (AAI) in 1988. AAI advises large (mainly global) advertisers on appointing communications agencies, building productive partnerships with them, and producing work that is both creative and effective. David has lectured and trained in more than 40 countries, and AAI has been engaged by clients including: BA, Cadbury, Camelot, Coca-Cola, Confused.com, Diageo, Electrolux, Ericsson, FCA, Ferrero Rocher, Ford, GSK, HP, Heinz, Honda, Jaguar, John Lewis, Kelloggs, Lloyds Banking Group, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Pernod Ricard, Reckitt Benckiser, SABMiller, Shell, Sony Erickson, Toyota, TUI, Visa Europe, Volvo, VW
He was educated at St Edward’s School Oxford and Jesus College Oxford, where he took an MA in Philosophy Politics and Economics. He is married with four adult children, and lives in Reading Berkshire, and Alderney Channel Islands.
Better Meetings. Better Decisions (trailer for the consulting platform and training film based on ‘Mote’, featuring clips of David Wethey speaking)
Twitter: @davidwethey @MoteMeet