How Many Meetings Are Too Many?
“Like Barbie’s Dreamhouse and Hot Wheels, meetings at Mattel Inc. now come with instructions,” says the Wall Street Journal. The recent article refers to the toymaker’s new policy to streamline creativity and overhaul its meeting-heavy culture by limiting the number of people who may attend meetings (10, except for training) and decreeing: “There should be no more than a TOTAL of three meetings to make any decision.”
We agree that endless meetings can be a drain on productivity. Rather than setting strict limits on the number of meetings and participants allowed, we believe leaders should strive to make meetings smarter.
We’ve long recommended our PRES (Point, Reason, Example, Summary) model as a powerful way for meeting participants to get to the heart of any matter. We also recommend the “80/20 principle.” Identify the 20 percent of the discussion that captures 80 percent of the results. Empower participants to call “80/20” when they feel the discussion has reached a point of diminishing returns -- when people are repeating themselves without adding new information. We also urge leaders to ask every meeting participant to be searching for agreements that all group members support.
We want to hear! What do you think should be done to prevent “meeting creep” and make meetings more effective? Join the conversation and click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
3/17/2015 07:21:39 am
I've been a long-time fan (and user) of the guidance offered by Manager Tools on running effective meetings, which includes:
3/18/2015 02:57:44 am
Thanks for the suggestion and source, Michael.
3/18/2015 02:51:28 am
3/18/2015 02:57:05 am
Great to hear that this worked with actors negotiating contracts. And so glad that your meetings are more productive and shorter after viewing our homepage video! Thanks Steve.
8/21/2016 03:24:33 pm
I can't agree more with Michael. I'm always amazed when I'm called in to assist a team that is not functioning well, and learn that they have zero or poor facilitation, no agenda, no one to help keep their discussions on track. Often it's not clear what the objective of a particular topic is--informational? decision? And if it's a decision, they don't make it clear up front which decision model they will use. Ofter they believe they are using consensus, when they truly don't understand what that means. Some think, consensus means we all agree 100%. Or some think, consensus is an "I can live with it" decision. Or, worse yet, they have a discussion and at some point call for a vote, and then think that was a consensus decision. The one the really irks me is when two or three people voice their opinion on a topic (out of maybe a 15-member group), and those three are in general agreement, so the leader or facilitator then says, okay, then we're all in agreement. NOT!
8/22/2016 10:58:48 am
Melissa you have nailed some of the greatest barriers to collaborative decision making. When people say that collaboration didn't work -- or took too long -- we often believe that the problems that you and Michael identified are the culprits.
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