Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Run a Short Meeting Better than a Billionaire

Good morning, Successful People!

Are you feeling motivated this morning? I certainly hope so. I know that I am!

Imagine a billionaire running a meeting, and images of Donald Trump's board room in The Apprentice are bound to occur to you.

The purpose of those meetings is to fire someone.

Would you like to be fired in public with millions watching? Perhaps not.
Television today is all about letting viewers observe humiliation vicariously. How long do you think a company would last that actually conducted itself the way the firing process occurs in The Apprentice? People would be out looking for new jobs before they got fired and would leave in droves.

The average business meeting lasts an hour and little is accomplished. There's not even much entertainment value!

The average person who works in management spends over 20 hours a week in meetings. Make those meetings more productive, and those managers will be getting home a lot earlier . . . and have a lot more energy to spend with those they love.

Most of those meetings are with other people in the same organization. Many of these meetings can be streamlined.

Here are some ideas that have worked:

1. Schedule the meeting to last 15 minutes rather than an hour.

2. Conduct the meeting standing up. People will be anxious to finish up quickly and get back to their desks.

3. Only work on one item.

4. Distribute background material ahead of time and encourage others to do the same.

5. Start the meeting on time.

Have everyone who cares about the issue in the room.

Begin the meeting with any observations people want to make . . . but limit those observations to 2 minutes each.

8. Propose next steps.

9. Ask for comments on the next steps.

10. Assign responsibility and deadlines.

11. Ask that the assignments be acknowledged in writing within 24 hours.

As you can see, some meetings actually need more than 15 minutes if a decision is to be made. That length usually means that the organization isn't prepared yet to deal with the issue. Rather than thrash out what you don't know but could find out pretty quickly, focus just on making those preparations. Make assignments to become prepared, and meet again when that preparation is done. You won't get there any faster by extending the length of this meeting.

As for meetings with those outside of your organization, most of your visitors will feel like they should receive more than 15 minutes of your time. If you explain that you are busy, but would like to see them and can only spare 30 minutes, few will be offended. Don't schedule your next meeting for at least 30 minutes after your meeting with a visitor is supposed to end. In that way, you can graciously extend the time should it be appropriate to pay more attention to the person or focus on my issues.

Can a billionaire do any better? I doubt it.

A billionaire has an enormous entourage of assistants, helpers, aides, lieutenants and advisors. Many of those people won't feel motivated unless they get lots of "face time" with the boss. Warren Buffett is a possible exception. He tells most of the people who work for him not to call or visit.


N.B. As you can tell, I'm experimenting with color. Let me know what you like and what I should change about my use of color. Many thanks to Linda Grace for her suggestions which I am following!

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May God bless you.

Donald W. Mitchell, Your Dream Concierge

Copyright 2005 Donald W. Mitchell