Learn from the best – how do the big boys meet?
Innovative leaders have made changes to make meetings more productive, effective and efficient, as well as more enjoyable and less painful. Here is how some big players take the dread out of meetings while boosting great results.
Google – Who is the decision maker?
As a company grows, so does management, and more and more meetings are inevitable. At the same time, it takes longer and longer to reach decisions. When Google realised that they also needed to speed up while growing, they took actions to streamline the decision-making process. A meeting where everyone “bucks” making a decision is a waste of time. Hence meetings oriented towards a decision need a clear decision-maker, with all attendees providing input while limiting the meeting to 10 or less crucial people.
Apple – Size matters
Employees tend to stay hidden in large meetings. At Apple, Steve Jobs preferred meetings to be small groups of smart people. Anyone not relevant to the meeting should not be part of it. Agenda items should become action items during the meeting in order to clarify accountability. At Apple, this is achieved by the DRI – the Directly Responsible Individual. Coming out of the meeting, their name is tagged to any task they need to get done.
Microsoft – Keep the balance
Meetings with just one speaker are nothing but a lecture and quickly become forgetful, soporific events. A good meeting requires input from all attendees, so speaking time should be shared accordingly. To help keep the balance of speaking and listening at meetings, a team at Microsoft introduced Ralph, the rubber chicken. In truth it’s nothing but a simple token being tossed around the group to the speaker of the moment.
Amazon – No PowerPoint
PowerPoints with their bullet points, charts and graphs tend to look nifty – and run on at length. Two scenarios are likely: the audience dies a slow death one slide at a time, or the presenter is rushing through their thousand and one slides. No one ever looks at a presentation shared after the meeting. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, realised that PowerPoint enables presenters to “gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the innerconnectedness of ideas” while being difficult to follow.
Facebook – Walk with me
Traditionally, the daily stand-up is used in Agile development teams who work in Scrum or Kanban, but the principle can be used by anyone: don’t sit down during meetings to keep them short. Standing can cut meetings by one fourth. They also help attendees interact better as a team by keeping balance and literally think on their feet, resulting in more excitement about topics and less territorial feelings about ideas. Sitting for prolonged periods of time is considered bad for your health, so many innovative tech companies take it one step further – and hold walking meetings.