Measure ROTI

by Steven M. Smith · 12 comments

How can you quickly measure the Return on Time Invested (ROTI) by the participants of a meeting?

Have the participants rate their personal ROTI during the meeting using the following scale:

4. Superb: I learned something that will save me significant time.

3. Positive: I learned something that will save me time.

2. Balanced: I broke even.

1. Negative: My time invested exceeded my return.

0, Worthless: The meeting was a waste of my time.

Explain the process to the participants by sharing that you will collect data about the meeting so that you can improve the design of the next meeting. First you will gather each participants rating of ROTI using a round-robin poll. Share that you will build a histogram of the ratings. Finally, you will ask some questions and document responses on a flipchart. Ask everyone to make sure that their information is captured correctly.

Collect the ROTI data with a round-robin poll. During this part of the process, do not accept any comment other than a numerical score. Build the histogram. The whole process should take less the 1-minute. Remember the names of people who gave the highest and lowest rating.

Explore the upper extreme — Suberb or Positive — of the histogram by asking the people who rated the meeting the highest, “What did you learn that will save you time?”. This exploration may require getting around the typical bland responses such as, “We had a great discussion about X. Help the person be more specific by asking questions like, What specifically about the discussion helped your productivity? Or, how are going to use what you heard to do something different? Capture the responses on a flipchart.

Explore the lower extreme — Negative or Worthless — of the histogram by asking people who rated the return as low, What went wrong for you during the meeting? And, what needs to be changed at the next meeting so that you rate the meeting higher? If the person consistently gives the meeting a low rating ask her, “Is this meeting a good fit for you?” Sometimes a person doesn’t need to attend the meeting and they know it and the other participants know it. Like the upper extreme, capture these response on a flipchart.

Now you should be left with participants who rated the meeting Balanced. Ask the participants, “Is there anything else I should capture about the meeting?”. Document. If the ratings are all Balanced, explore why the meeting isn’t saving time for at least one person.

Please, do not rate the meeting yourself or provide any feedback. Your job is to listen and capture the participants’ feedback.

If you, the meeting leader, use the feedback to tune the design of the next meeting to increase its ROTI, this process will work. Otherwise, the collection process is a Worthless use of time.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tobias Fors March 11, 2010 at 6:43 am

Steve: just wanted to drop a note and say how much I love this little tool. Since I learned it from you, I’ve been using it all the time. In the beginning, I somehow forgot about the part where you ask participants about why the grade the meeting the way they do. When I finally discovered this (fake it til you make it …), I started adding on that key part, and wow man, it just rocks. I use ROTI to evaluate the value of my own client workshops, and I use it to help client’s evaluate their own meetings. I also recommend the method all the time. Easy to learn, and very powerful. Thank you! /Tobias


Steven M. Smith March 11, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hi Tobias, I’m thrilled to hear that the tool has been useful for you. I appreciate you for sharing that feedback. It’s brightened up a rainy, gray (Seattle) morning for me.


Reshma November 17, 2011 at 12:26 am

Dear Steven,

Do you have any blogs on how to conduct effective technical meetings, and knowledge transfer.



Steven M. Smith November 20, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Hi Reshma, All of my meeting articles are based on my experience of running effective technical meetings. So all of the articles are to a great degree about running technical meetings.


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