Apr 172012


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!

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