Over the past few months as I slowly have re-entered the work arena (after a short break) I have found myself attending more and more and more meetings.
Meetings that last anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Unproductive? You bet.
As early as 2003, I started practicing what later became a phenomenon in the startup world. I did it simply out of necessity but in today’s startup world it is known as the 15-minute stand-up meeting.
My objective in the early days was to get the team ready for the day, make sure everyone knows their tasks, address any questions, and put out any fires.
10 or 12 years later (around 2014–15), I was rebuilding my company and startup and I came across an article about the benefits of stand-up meetings. I think by that time I had somehow dropped the practice. I must admit that partially I was also demotivated and this image says it all. It makes me laugh now but I was punctual and there was always someone in our small team who would be late. We would wait, chat and then start the meeting without them.
However, even then it was productive to have that early morning. We kept it to 5 to 15 minutes. Everyone was aware of the tasks, objectives, and problems at hand.
As I take the helm and start my year as the president of my Toastmasters Club this year, I would like to think of implementing this somehow in our club meetings, committee meetings, and other clubs that I belong to and serve as a committee member. A quick short meeting I believe is much more effective than where everyone sits endlessly during a long meeting. Listening to opinions.
This brings me to another two points, where meetings should be divided into
A) Decision Meetings
Decision meetings should be sharp and quick. Everyone should have studied the facts, anything regarding those facts, discrepancies should have been discussed online, outside and the meeting should only be for decision makings, voting on which option to take forward. I applied this effectively at our own Home Owners Association. I built a website (urbytus.com) where all matters were discussed throughout the year, the documents and facts were available, everyone could discuss and exchange opinions and the AGM or EGM was reserved for the final voting. Short and sweet.
B) Brain Storming Meetings
Yes, this is where we can discuss ideas, argue the cons and pros, and the what ifs. It is where the objective should be to try and understand the opposing side rather than argue your side. In the book “The Scout Mindset” by Julia Galef, she points out that the scout mindset seeks the truth whereas the soldier’s mindset (opposite of the scout) tries to reinforce what they believe to be true.
We all have strong opinions. Even though I at this point am inclined to prove that short meetings are better than longer ones, however, I accept that longer meetings are also necessary. As a compromise, I would like to see them broken up into two types of meetings. Short and sweet decision-making meetings and long and fruitful brainstorming sessions where you can dig in without having to worry about going over time.
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