Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To Meet or Not to Meet

There's an excellent article from a few days ago in the Wall Street Journal about a growing trend for companies to adopt elements from Agile software development, including not sitting during meetings.  The idea is to force efficiency.  Just because Outlook defaults to 1-hour meeting increments doesn't mean that much time is needed, or that I actually want to spend that much time with you.

Who called this meeting?
Here are my 4 rules of meeting invites:
1. Have a goal:  If I don't see a goal in the meeting invite, then I am calling and asking for one.
2. Have an agenda:  Lord knows that we might mention the Super Bowl, or the latest Damn You Auto-Correct or People of Walmart post, but a framework helps march the team towards the goal and keeps the animals in the zoo, contained.
3. Invite the Necessary, Spare the Innocent:  'Nuff said!
4. In-and-out, no one gets hurt:  If it only takes 5 minutes, you're my hero!  I try to book meetings in 15 or 30 minute increments to force the issue, but if it really doesn't even take a meeting, just walk over or pick up the phone and save everyone the time and effort.

Forcing people to stand and taking away tables so they won't be playing Cut the Rope during the meeting is fine, but hopefully, you work with adults and not the chimps from the CareerBuilder Super Bowl commercial.

The old adage that time is money is too simple to explain the impact, though.  First, you are not only wasting your time (T = $), you are multiplying the time waste by how many people you've invited (T x N = $$).  Also, all time spent meeting is time not spent on opportunity (T x N - O = $$$).  Finally, when you really need to discuss and communicate in a structured format, you are likely trying to make important decisions that affect business, so doing it well is critical.

Save a dollar, kill a bad meeting.

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