Seth Godin has posted a wonderful checklist for solving the terrible problem of long unfruitful meetings. I have lost count of how many too long meetings have finished with the uncomfortable sense of being in the middle of nowhere.
Making an unshameful copy-paste act, the list goes like this:
1. Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length?
2. Schedule meetings in increments of five minutes. Require that the meeting organizer have a truly great reason to need more than four increments of realtime face time.
3. Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don’t, kick them out.
4. Remove all the chairs from the conference room. I’m serious.
5. If someone is more than two minutes later than the last person to the meeting, they have to pay a fine of $10 to the coffee fund.
6. Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you’re done. Not your fault, it’s the timer’s.
7. The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
9. If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave. You can always read the summary later.
Seth Godin is a genius in the marketing arena and product development and you better subscribe to his blog to get digestible chunks of wisdom on a frequent basis.
To that list I want to add:
- Make everybody clear how much money the meeting is costing. Sum all the fractions of involved people’s salaries invested in being gathered X amount of time.
- Boldly leave the room once the egg timer rings or when your have detected that the meeting has been ineffective.
- Don’t wait for your boss. If your boss is late and anyone else is on time, start the meeting. Be consistent with the policy. Make him pay the fine as anyone else.
- Identify issues that can be effectively resolved in the meeting.
- Define clear Action Items to deal with detected issues that need to be resolved out of the meeting.
- Set a person to take accountability on the resolution of the issue.
- Measure the issue and set the metrics to know if the issue was clarified or resolved.
- At the end of the meeting, review all the agreements reached, action items and people responsible for those action items.