Endless meetings have you down? Pittampalli has a solution to your woes. He claims that modern meetings should only be held to solve specific problems and the only people who should be required to attend are those who could take direct action to solve that problem. I think that the idea is a solid one.
It does take some internal mindset changes by the folks who call meetings. The first step, like with any problem, is to admit that you even have a problem. “Over time, we’ve become nonchalant about bad meetings. If an operating room were as sloppily run as our meetings, patients would die.” pg 7. Overly dramatic, perhaps, but true. And also keep in mind: “Change is never met with open arms. Great decisions involve risk and risk scares people; it’s natural for great ideas to get attacked or, worse, ignored. I can think of no single great innovation that has ever happened without the presence of opposition.” pg 15 So, there may be an uphill battle over this, but, Pattampalli thinks, it is worth it.
The end goal: “Meetings need to be less like the endless commercial breaks during a football game and more like pit stops in the Daytona 500.” pg 20. So, they’re necessary, but they should run quickly because: “Meetings are too expensive and disruptive to justify using them for the most common types of communication, such as making announcements, clarifying issues, or even gathering intelligence. Like war, meetings are a last resort.” pg 23
This strict definition of a meeting means that there is going to be some major preparatory work since communication isn’t going to be a part of the show. The person calling the meeting has to distribute information about the issue so that those who are attending can contribute. “Every meeting should require pre-meeting work. Any information for getting attendees up to speed should be given out beforehand. If the attendee doesn’t have time to read and prepare, she doesn’t have time to attend.” pg 37. But, this preparation pays off when, after the meeting, the business should have created a concrete ‘action plan’ that includes: “What actions are we committing to? Who is responsible for each action? When will those actions be completed?” pg 39. Thus addressing the problem that the meeting was called to solve and serving its function.
Most of the meetings that I’ve attended in my life have been rambling, unfocused affairs that were called to fill the monthly meeting quota that was arbitrarily chosen by management- a touch-base, if you will. Pittampalli is adamant that this is a waste of time. I never really saw it that way because I didn’t have any expectations that meetings were supposed to accomplish anything at all. We’d meet, then get on about our business. This book has shown me that I should expect more.
Recommended for anybody who wants to learn more about the benefits of “modern meetings”. This short book has everything that you need to start changing the world, one meeting at a time.
Thanks for reading!