4 rules for better meetings

Its rare that someone disagrees with the notion that meetings are a great way for people to waste time & fill in their day in an unproductive fashion.

Indeed JK Galbraith, the famous economist, once observed that meetings are indispensible when you don't want to do anything.

Yet every company feels they must hold a meeting citing the need(s)

– to make people feel included and consulted

– to allow for debate on issues

– to ensure consensus decisions are reached on key issues 

– improve communication 

…same themes, different slant 

How often have you sat through meetings in which much of the content was not relevant to you simply because the audience invited was to widely drawn or the agenda too wide/unfocussed.  Or the meeting was dominated by a few individuals. Or worse, appalling decisions were arrived at simply because the majority view had to prevail and this could only be achieved by either agreeing to do nothing with more analysis (cop out &  just a means of avoiding/deferring a real decision).

Its odd that some companies can get quite wound up when small groups of people just get on and do stuff without inviting lots of people to a meeting – that the small team achieved stuff & didn't waste the time of people who neither cared or could contribute anything of seems irrelevant to them. More important that those other folks at least have the opportunity to contribute something (probability suggesting that at least once in their lifetimes they might, provided they attend enough meetings).

And I am willing to admit that I have fallen fowl of these failings too. 

So here are my new proposed rules

  1. Everyone shall remain standing through the entire meeting – no slouching or sitting permitted
  2. No meeting may last for more than 30 minutes, with Outlook calendars set at 20 min rather than 30 min increments
  3. No participant may speak for more than 10 minutes in total at the meeting
  4. All meetings are cancelled


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