Meetings are deceptive.
Like email, we wear the number of them we have as a busy badge of honor.
Also like email, being a part of them makes us feel important.
And worst all of, just like email, the temptation to “cc”—or use a meeting as a venue to merely inform—is ever-present and usually leads to distraction, dilution, and wasted time.
It’s this last point that gets us in the most trouble.
There’s simple math behind meetings that is paradoxically both obvious and elusive for so many of us: If you have a one-hour meeting with 10 people that is a waste of time, that’s not just your hour that’s lost. It’s 10 organizational hours. That’s 1/4 of a full-time employee’s workweek.
Low-value meetings come at a tremendous time cost—perhaps the most costly lost time category in your entire organization. As a result, it’s no surprise the most productive employees often say meetings are the least favorite part of their day.
So what’s the solution?
I’m not a complete anti-meeting maniac. I do believe meetings can work, and they are extremely important in certain instances (like weekly one-on-ones with team members you manage). But we also need to be wary of the low-value temptations they create.
At Possible we’ve created four principles to make sure meetings do what they’re best designed for: creating clarity and spurring collaboration.
- Meet as a last option
- If you think something can be accomplished outside of a meeting, it’s your responsibility to make that suggestion.
- And it’s everyone’s responsibility to treat each meeting as a race of clarity
- Make clear commitments a default by documenting meetings in Asana
- Great meetings leave everyone with a clear idea of “who will do what by when.”
- Asana is the perfect match for that structure
- Give 24 hours for every 15 minutes of meeting prep.
- It’s hard to create a standard rule here but this is close: for every 15 minutes you expect someone needs to review materials you’ve prepared for a meeting, grant them 1 day to review.
- Every meeting should have one clear “Direct Responsible Individual” to lead it
- A meeting is effective if it has a person responsible for building the agenda, sending out materials, keeping the meeting on time, and ending the meeting with clear documented commitments.
In summary, less meetings, more doing.
By Mark Arnoldy, CEO at Possible