Contrary to popular belief: meetings are not the devil. We look at how to get more creative – and productive – with your weekly gatherings.
But there’s good news: Rapid experimentation with meetings in the past decade by startups and Fortune 500 companies alike has produced a new set of rules to consider. Here are three that seem to be universal: Of course, there’s no need to stop there.
- All meetings must have a stated purpose or agenda. Without an agenda, meetings can easily turn into aimless social gatherings rather than productive working sessions.
- Attendees should walk away with concrete next steps or Action Items. We love Action Items here, but we’re not the only ones. From Apple to the Toastmasters, the world’s most successful organizations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks.
- The meeting should have an end time. Constraints breed creativity. By not placing an end time, we encourage rambling, off-topic and useless conversation.
Of course, there’s no need to stop there. Truly productive companies always continue tweaking to suit their specific culture. Here are a few highlights:
During the Steve Jobs era, Apple constantly worked to stay true to its startup roots while becoming the largest company in the world.
- Every project component or task has a “DRI.” According to Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Apple breeds accountability at meetings by having a Directly Responsible Individual whose name appears next to all of the agenda items they are responsible for. With every task tagged, there’s rarely any confusion about who should be getting what done.
- Be prepared to challenge and be challenged. There are dozens of tales about Jobs’ ability to aggresively question his employees, sometimes moving them to tears. While you probably don’t need the waterworks at your office, everyone should be willing to defend their ideas and work from honest criticism. If a person has no ideas to defend, they shouldn’t be at the meeting.