Do you or does your company have a “two pizza rule” for your business meetings?
Perhaps this might help your meetings end with a decision…as opposed to it being just a discussion that can be a nice way to pass the time of the working day. Although not always even that.
The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a strict strategy for meeting productivity.
And that’s never to have a meeting in which you couldn't feed the whole group with two pizzas.
He thinks small groups are far more efficient than large ones…and the two-pizza rule helps him clamp down on meetings he thinks will waste his time.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is claimed to have said that: “You have a meeting to make a decision, not to decide on the question.”
And Tesla car entrepreneur Elon Musk emailed staff to boost production at his Tesla Model 3 car plant in which he made some “recommendations” about streamlining operations.
“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren't adding value.” And “it’s not rude to leave. It is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.” His main productivity tips included:
Good advice…or unrealistic advice?
Well, research in the Harvard Business Review found that 71% of managers believe their companies’ meetings are unproductive and inefficient.
This is probably because far too many companies have meetings in the often clinical “comfort” of their own offices because it’s convenient and, in many cases, because it’s conventional.
Very rarely are meetings approached in a creative way.
We all want to get through them and get on with our work. And this is why there’s often an underlying perception among so many workers that business meetings get in the way of us actually getting on with our work.
Business meetings can often feel like a sanctioned corporate chinwag.
Everyday opportunities to communicate something useful to colleagues and/or clients in a compellingly concise and colourful way invariably turn into distracted, diluted and generally dismal discussions where views are aired, often aimlessly, and few to no actions are agreed upon, let alone acted upon.
There are of course some people who love meetings – but too often it’s because these gatherings make them feel self-important.
It’s more about their personal and professional prestige than it is about furthering their company’s and indeed their own proper business purpose.
And then there are those who operate meetings in a focus vacuum…turning up to them because they had never thought to question whether they needed to be there and even whether the meeting was worth holding in the first place.
Like you, I’ve sat and sometimes, by some freak of nature and an iron will to keep my pulse ticking over, have managed to stay awake in enough of them.
I’ve also hosted and chaired enough meetings in diverse situations, from stirring-up creative commercial juices to crisis management, and in some diverse businesses, from funky start-ups to large and conservative corporate business behemoths.
And what has often been obvious is that how uncreative and uncolourful and unsuccessful too many of these meetings were – in terms of the communication before, during and after said meetings, both in written and spoken forms, and the real results, or lack thereof.
Some of the most successful meetings I’ve had are the ones where we went outside into a park or to a lovely café or a museum. I once even took a client on a train journey as they loved trains. And the change in environment made everyone react more positively and, ultimately more productively.
Perhaps you can take the Japanese approach…of applying PechaKucha (chit-chat).
This is a way of presenting important information quickly and straight to the point.
You aim to communicate 20 ideas in 20 seconds, with the idea being that you conduct a successful meeting by communicating only what is absolutely necessary.
Before holding any meeting, ignore the restrictive conventions of most businesses, and do things differently…by asking yourself the following 6 core questions:
If you don’t reflect on these to improve your meetings culture, in very real terms, then don’t be surprised if some or even all of those attending take the Elon Musk approach…and walk out of your meetings. Just saying!
Aside from the fact that you can now enjoy FREE access to a cunning coaching tool (simply click the red button you see next to this article)…
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