The Manager-Tools guys just finished up a couple of good podcasts on timely meetings.
This was good stuff and certainly good to periodically get a refresh on professional and efficient meeting behavior. I think poor meeting habits are an epidemic in corporate America and we managers are indeed guilty of waste. Unfortunately, I am not as optimistic on a resolution any time soon; IMHO, this is a side effect of life in an organization.
The principles of running timely meetings are solid and we should all strive to adhere to them, but in most cases they are ideals that will be generally unattainable in the whole. Firstly, organizations have cultures that we inherit. Unless we are at the higher end of the food chain, we cannot drastically change that culture. We can influence by demonstrating our efficiencies in our meetings, but this will not change the culture.
Secondly, organizations and roles and responsibilities within them are made up of moving parts that have to react to changes in the environment. Many of those changes out rank the goal of a timely meeting. The IT manager knows this well, especially if they have operational and support responsibilities. Things break, customers scream, and projects have deadlines. Resolving these dilemmas take priority. IT engineers may need to come late, leave early, or bring their laptops.
Timely meetings are important and as managers we should endeavor to promote meeting efficiency. I will continue to start on time and distribute agendas (and minutes). We just need to remember they are a means to an end, not the end itself.