Some Thoughts on Meetings

Meetings are very expensive mostly due to the time commitment from the participants. So in order to be respectful, it’s imperative to carefully determine if you should ask people to prioritize this meeting above something else.

Definition- for the purposes of the following suggestions a meeting occurs when two or more people set aside time to interact directly with one another (in person, on line or telephone).


There are only two reasons to have meetings:

1. to receive immediate input from another person or group about a compelling idea

Creative session- no defined boundaries or established outcomes…just idea flow

Urgent Group Decision Making- A sprint style gathering to provide mission critical information and obtaining immediate feedback which will affect the outcome of the mission.

2. to create change through teaching and inspiration (Presentation)

Otherwise, you probably don’t need a meeting. The information can be shared (and input collected) more efficiently in other ways.

If you decide to have a meeting, consider making these declarations...

  1. On Time Start- Arrive 5 minutes early or don’t come.
  2. Preparation- Have an agenda with clear, time defined topics. Attach any background information which requires feedback or needs to be reviewed in order to make a decision. Everyone commits to enough preparation so ideas can be presented succinctly (strive for 30 seconds or less). Any ideas that require analysis or review of more than one minute must be shared in advance (define a standard for how far in advance).
  3. Sprint- Come prepared to sprint, not to relax. Consider standing up. and remove all distractions (phones, text, email, etc.). Think of the meeting as really hard work.

If people leave the meeting looking forward to the next one…you know you have a successful meeting. Otherwise, you need to change the content or style…or eliminate the meeting altogether. If you eliminate a meeting and no one misses it or the mission doesn’t suffer…it was a good call.

Dream Company

I’d probably call it Appelos...hybrid Apple and Zappos

It has nothing to do with computers or an internet store. It’s about their obsessions...

Apple- quality, innovation, design, spirit, growing the tribe

Zappos- employee care, employee dream fulfillment, customer engagement, pursuit of happiness

Obviously, both organizations have been very successful on every measure. But, they also both started at zero and went through serious dips before emerging into what we know today. The key takeaway is how they stuck to their core values and developed obsessions around them. They survived and made progress by ignoring popular trends and advice and simply (but not easily) doing flawless work. They executed their obsessions...and continue to do so.

Lesson...Write down your purpose, what you stand for. Develop obsessions and execute. There, that’s your business plan. Please go do something remarkable.

What Did You Do to Move Your Organization Forward in 2010?

Whether you work for yourself or for a company of 5,000...the question is the same. This is the simplest form of the annual performance review. If you're honest with yourself, you can get a lot from the answer. If you think you might cheat a little, ask five or ten other people that are close to you. By the way, the same principle can and should be applied to how you did with friends and family.

Idea Tanks

For me, there are certain places that just seem to foster better idea tanks. Moving vehicles happen to be at the top of the list. I suppose it’s because I’m forced into fewer activities and distractions while in them. No kids or colleagues asking for a favor, no surfing the internet (although you can do that for a small fortune on most planes now), etc. It’s an office which forces me to focus on what’s gong on in my mind vs. worrying about what might interrupt me next.

I guess there are tons of idea tanks. Some people probably use hammocks, or a small corner of the beach. In any form, they breed creativity. Where’s yours?

Sorry, gotta go, we’re about to land.


Three takeaways from a presentation I attended today...

1. Standing behind a podium takes a lot away from the presentation...makes you look less confident.
2. There's no need for slides if you have great content and a compelling delivery.
3. Less is better- less words, shorter sentences...make your point one has the time for more.

Enough said...

5 Things

What are you doing to move your organization forward? What are the people around you doing? What about the candidate being considered to join your company...what did she do at her last company to get them ahead? No matter when or how often you ask, it's always the most important thing to know....what are we doing?

Try implementing a 5 things report to get everyone focused on the idea of measurable progress. List the 5 things you're doing right now that will measurably move the organization get it a step closer to achieving overarching objectives like building an audience of loyal raving fans, reducing waste by 5% or improving employee retention. Release a new list regularly, on whatever schedule feels right...weekly seems to work well for most. Start handing yours out to your boss, peers and subordinates. Don't ask for theirs. After awhile, you'll get some in return. Hopefully, you'll start a shift in the culture of participation and measuring progress.