Now that Tax Day is behind us, let’s talk about another cruel aspect of modern life: meetings. You know, the ones that are so important that the entire department has to be there. The ones that you spend 15 minutes, or an hour, or a day preparing for—and then no one asks for the report you prepared. The ones that keep you from working on your real work. That kind.Al Pittampalli has written a brilliant little book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting, that proposes a completely new kind of meeting: The Modern Meeting. Very simply, the Modern Meeting:
- supports a decision that has already been made;
- moves fast and ends on schedule;
- limits the number of attendees;
- rejects the unprepared;
- produces committed action plans;
- refuses to be informational—reading memos is mandatory;
- works only alongside a culture of brainstorming.
I won’t go into a lot of detail (you’ll need to read the book for that), but this should give you a great idea of where he’s going:
“Keep meetings as brief as possible and set a firm end time. Every minute that you are sitting with five or seven of our key people is a minute that’s costing us a fortune. Spend it wisely.”
I love the idea of a Modern Meeting, don’t you? It should be so basic, but sadly, we like to make things more complex than they need be.
As an antidote to complexity, I went back to basics and did a series of ABC’s, some of which are at the top of this newsletter. To make things a little more interesting, it’s in Spanish (I studied Spanish while I was growing up, and lived in Puerto Rico for over a decade). I’d be glad to send you the mini-poster with the full alphabet. Just email me your mailing address.
I invite you to share your amusing (or painful, or painfully amusing) meeting stories in the comments—anonymously, of course!