The ROTI Method for Gauging Meeting Effectiveness


Work on Improving Meeting Effectiveness
If you host an ongoing periodic meeting, you have a great opportunity to make incremental improvements. Start asking for feedback on your meetings, and be willing to make changes based on the information you receive. At the end of the meeting, ask participants to rate their Return on Time Invested (ROTI) using this scale:

0 = Lost Principle: No Benefit Received for Time Invested
1 = a little better than 0
2 = Break-Even: Received Benefit Equal to Time Invested
3 = a little less than 4
4 = High Return on Investment: Received Benefit Greater than Time Invested

I'm happy if most people feel the meeting was a break-even investment. Still, there's almost always room for improvement. As each participant states his/her rating, build a histogram that shows the results. It might look like this:
Meeting ROTI
4 |
3 ||
2 ||||
1 |
0 |

Even if everyone rated the meeting at four, it's worth doing the next step to find out why the meeting worked well so you can repeat your success. Ask the people who rated the meeting a two or above what specifically they feel they
received for their time investment. Ask the people who rated the meeting at zero or one what they wanted but didn't get.

Then ask what specifically worked, what didn't work, and for possible changes. Even if everyone gave equally positive feedback, it's worth doing the next step to find out why the meeting worked well so you can repeat your success. Don't assume that a rating of zero means you did a poor job. A zero rating may simply mean that the person didn't care about the topic. That's easily fixed by publishing an agenda ahead of time. The benefit you receive for your time can come in several forms, depending on the purpose of the meeting.

Here's where you get value in meetings:

Information Sharing:
Did you receive answers to questions or hear information that allowed you to overcome an obstacle, move forward on your tasks, or avoid rework?

Did the meeting result in a decision that allowed you to move forward?

Problem Solving:
Were the people in the meeting able to succinctly state a problem, generate candidate solutions, or decide on a course of action?

Work Planning: Did you leave the meeting with a clear idea of what you and your colleagues will be working on this week? Do you understand the goal you're striving for and understand what the priorities are?

What do you find makes a meeting effective? What have you done to improve meetings in your group?

I first learned about the ROTI method for gauging meeting effectiveness and gathering feedback from my colleague Steve Smith. You may visit his website at

About the author

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby

A regular and Better Software magazine contributor, Esther Derby is one of the rare breed of consultants who blends the technical issues and managerial issues with the people-side issues. She is well known for helping teams grow to new levels of productivity. Project retrospectives and project assessments are two of Esther's key practices that serve as effective tools to start a team's transformation. Recognized as one of the world's leaders in retrospective facilitation, she often receives requests asking her to work with struggling teams. Esther is one of the founders of the AYE Conference. She co-author of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. She has presented at STAREAST, STARWEST and the Better Software Conference & EXPO. You can read more of Esther's musings on the wonderful world of software at and on her weblog at Her email is

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