Design companies, faced with multiple projects running in parallel on a daily basis, often encounter various management issues, system problems, and team-building challenges. In situations where information dissemination, discussion, and decision-making involving multiple individuals are required, organizing meetings becomes necessary.
Meetings, essentially, are business activities that involve inputs and outputs.
The input of a meeting is the time cost of all participants, while the output is a set of conclusions, such as consensus reached by all or content collectively created by the attendees.
Meetings are a business activity where group time is exchanged for meeting outcomes.
So why have meetings? To solve things more efficiently, which ultimately means making money! Time is money.
By conducting effective meetings, we can create greater value in terms of meeting outcomes compared to the time cost.
Meeting Value = Outcome Value – Time Cost
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01-The purposes of meetings
- Establish Consensus: This involves clearly defining the organizational or project milestones and ensuring that all participants are fully aware of them. The goal is to minimize misunderstandings and achieve alignment between knowledge and action within the organization.
- Clarify Progress: Keep colleagues informed about what has been accomplished and what the next steps are. This promotes a high level of synchronization between the project and the team’s work.
- Foster Collaborative Creation: Bring together the collective strengths of the team to collaboratively create valuable outcomes. For example, brainstorming sessions can be used to generate project ideas or solutions.
The essence of brainstorming lies in creating an open and free-flowing communication environment to gather a wide range of perspectives, ideas, or solutions.
The premise of brainstorming is to create an atmosphere where participants can freely express their viewpoints.
If your company or team lacks such an atmosphere, it is advisable to avoid brainstorming.
Based on my observations, the majority of design companies do not have this kind of environment, so it is better to minimize its use.
In such cases, brainstorming is often used as a means to shift responsibility. When everyone is looking to take shortcuts, they tend to rely on brainstorming. This so-called brainstorming becomes a situation where everyone expects to gain inspiration from others’ discussions, but in reality, everyone is relying on each other.
If the same hour of time is allocated for each person to come up with two design concepts for a layout, with five people, there could potentially be ten concepts after one hour. However, if these five individuals are brought together, is it possible for them to generate ten concepts within the same hour?
Lazy individuals tend to actively avoid contributing during brainstorming sessions, while those who truly have ideas do not need brainstorming.
Hand-raising voting needs to be conducted in different contexts, on different topics, and most importantly, with different participants. When it comes to important matters that require a vote, it is necessary to determine whether all attendees have the qualification to “raise their hand”. Being able to raise one’s hand does not necessarily indicate having sufficient judgment. Those who have been verified to possess precise judgment and leadership skills should not be limited to just one hand.
Effective meetings Conclusion value > Time cost
Ineffective meetings Conclusion value < Time cost
Meeting time cost = Meeting duration x Number of participants x Time cost per person Shortening meeting time
Here are some companies’ decisions : Amazon: Read documents in advance and avoid presentations during the meeting. Lenovo: 1 minute standing penalty for latecomers. These are methods to reduce time cost by shortening the meeting duration.
In addition, there are other approaches such as pricing meeting rooms, conducting standing meetings, holding remote meetings, or conducting meetings through group chats, all of which are effective ways to reduce time cost. Huddles have timer for each meeting and you can use AI agenda for your meeting to save time.
05-Reducing the number of participants
To reducing the number of participants, some companies choose to:
Facebook: One pizza is approximately equal to 8 people.
Amazon: Two pizzas are enough to feed all participants. Apple: Rejecting irrelevant attendees, following Steve Jobs’ principle of avoiding large meetings. Google: Limiting the number of participants to no more than 8. These methods are all about reducing time cost by limiting the number of participants.
06-Meetings should have clear procedural processes.
- Meeting system: Meetings should have clear procedural processes, as systems are always more reliable than relying on individuals’ self-discipline.
- Designated person in charge: Each meeting must be initiated and chaired by someone who maintains order, ensures adherence to meeting procedures and time control, and most importantly, ensures focus on the core agenda.
- Punctuality: Being on time is the foundation for individuals or teams to accomplish anything and is an important indicator of professionalism.
- Set time limits: Setting time limits is crucial for control, as controlling time leads to efficient meetings.
- Take good notes: Handwriting with a pen is a sign of focus, respect for the speaker and the meeting, and accumulates work. Note-taking on a notebook rather than a phone gives a more attentive impression.
- Agenda flow: Clearly list and notify in advance the agenda items.
- Meeting materials: Distribute them to participants in advance.
- Preparations: Preparation means there has been prior thinking, as ideas and opinions without prior thought are not worth wasting time on.
- Share opinions: Key participants need to express their views on the agenda items.
- Discuss with each other: Discussion is for screening and refining ideas.
- Summarize and conclude: Establish consensus and form the correct core conclusions.
- Assign tasks: Reasonably allocate the work required to follow up on the core content. WHO do WHAT by WHEN—determine who will complete what tasks by when.
07-Meetings are also the best occasions for individuals to showcase their abilities.
Tips to Consider:
- Avoid divergent discussions without a clear topic or limitations.
- Aim for accurate meeting conclusions, but don’t rush decisions for the sake of having a conclusion.
- Meetings also serve as opportunities to showcase individual abilities, but they can also magnify weaknesses.
- Instead of criticizing, provide constructive criticism based on affirmation.
- Individuals who consistently bring the discussion back to the main topic, establish consensus, and make progress demonstrate leadership potential.
Author: Olivia Rosewood
Expert in leadership and communication with over 20 years of experience.
Dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, executives, and team members improve their leadership and communication skills, thereby achieving personal and team success.