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It is amazing anything gets done in today’s workplace where people seem to spend most of their time in meetings, on conference calls, and responding to emails. Today I am going to cover meetings since this is one area that I think all of us can commiserate that we meet too much and get done too little. Instead I think we can take a lesson from the agile daily scrum meeting as the type of meeting to emulate.

For those of you not familiar with agile and the daily scrum meeting here is the 411. Agile meetings are stand-up meetings – yes literally people stand with the intent that the meeting should be short and people don’t have time to sit. Further, agile meetings are time boxed where the meeting lasts 15 min. and is geared at the key agile participants answering three key questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you doing today?
  3. Are there any obstacles you are facing?

All these questions are geared at focusing the team and ensuring maximum progress while supporting a strongly collaborative team.

This does not mean that every meeting has to be 15 minutes and there are three questions that everyone needs to answer. But, I do think when designing a meeting you should ask yourself the following:

  • What is the meeting purpose? You absolutely should never schedule a meeting without a clear meeting purpose. Avoid “touchbase” meetings as generally they have too many people and provide too little value.
  • Who are the necessary meeting participants? Only invite people that are necessary to the discussion. People like to be inclusive and this means meeting size becomes overwhelming and further too many people want to be part of too many “decisions”. Meetings should have 6 or less people to ensure maximum productivity. There are of course situations where larger groups of executives and other “marketing” meetings need to take place but don’t expect that those meetings will derive much value other than marketing.
  • How long should the meeting take? Avoid marathon meetings. Often times calendar default meetings are 1 hour but you can switch this. Try bringing that default meeting time to 30 min. or even 15 min. and it will force you to more consciously create longer meetings. I think most meetings should be 30 minutes or less. There are certainly situations where brainstorming or idea sessions take longer than 30 minutes but take at least one break every hour.
  • What is the meeting format and agenda? Meetings have many types of dynamics and formats. My preference is that a meeting be driven to be less professorial by the meeting host and more discussion driven to get input and results. The meeting organizer must be prepared though and have any data or information put together ahead of the meeting. Further, sharing this information and agenda of meeting ahead of time is optimal. The expectation that every invitee should come to the meeting prepared and if they had the agenda beforehand and supporting data, graphics, or information then the meeting itself will be much more beneficial for all.

These are some key tips to keep a meeting short and productive similar to the intent of an agile daily scrum meeting. While it is not easy to follow all the items above, it is certainly beneficial when you do and you will feel better after each meeting.

Have an awesome week and remember to do something today to supercharge your success.

As always appreciate your feedback, emails, comments, likes, and re-tweets!

photo credit: Priorização de assuntos para o jogo Mob Mind Map. via photopin (license)