Why Some Companies Are Constantly in Meetings: A Deep Dive

Why Some Companies Are Constantly in Meetings: A Deep Dive

Management scientist Peter Drucker said: “The reason why we hold meetings is because if we want to complete a specific task, the knowledge and experience of one person alone is not enough. We need to combine the knowledge and experience of several people.”

An efficient meeting can generate valuable corporate capital for a company, but the obvious truth is that many company meetings are lengthy and inefficient. Either the topic of discussion deviates from the direction, or no conclusion can be reached, and Or the results of the discussion have no value and are not implemented in the end.

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Many companies hold meetings just for the sake of meetings. Cumbersome regular meetings, meaningless greetings, sudden brainstorming sessions, etc. take up most of the time, so that many employees are busy with meetings during the day and only have time to do serious work at night. Work. Eventually, it falls into an infinite loop, resulting in low operating efficiency.

How can we streamline meeting time and process while improving meeting quality? In fact, many CEOs are experts in streamlining and efficient meetings, and have gained a lot of experience in practice. We have compiled 10 meeting strategies that we hope will be helpful to you. Below, Enjoy:

Reduce meeting time

As a regular corporate activity, how can we improve the quality of meetings? The first step should be to reduce meeting time.

Elon Musk is a vocal supporter of reducing meeting time. He believes that too many meetings are a problem in many large companies, and it is getting worse. Don’t organize large meetings unless you’re sure they will bring value to all attendees. Even so, the speaker should keep his story short.

In order to reduce meeting time, Jobs proposed to control the size of the meeting and only allow absolutely necessary people to participate in the meeting. Anyone else, regardless of their status, does not need to participate in the meeting if it is not necessary. Too many people and voices will cause counterproductive results.

This coincides with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former senior vice president of product Jonathan Rosenberg. “Any meeting should have its purpose. If the purpose is not clear, or the meeting cannot achieve this purpose, then the meeting should be cancelled.” In addition, the meeting should start and end on time. At the end of the meeting, summarize the results of the discussion.

LinkedIn organizes meetings of different frequencies and lengths by different leadership levels. Former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s executive team met once a week for three hours and once every six weeks for a full day. Each level meeting has a different purpose and scope, with the goal of guiding the company on both micro and macro levels.

The most incredible one is Pivotal, a company based in San Francisco. All the meetings their employees need to attend in a day total 15 minutes and rarely exceed 20 minutes. Then they work separately, every day. Executives may attend more meetings, but the overall culture of the company discourages these meetings.

Cancel presentation

Many companies do too much “waste work” in meetings, extending what can be done in a few minutes to dozens of minutes or even hours, such as reviewing some known information and showing known results. This is a waste of time and labor costs.

Jeff Bezos proposed not to use PPT in meetings at Amazon. Instead, they each write a six-page memo and read it silently at each meeting. These memos are often written a week in advance to ensure quality and improve efficiency during meetings.

Benefiting from Bezos’s views, LinkedIn’s former CEO Jeff Weiner canceled the presentation session. Typically, material that is supposed to be presented at a meeting is distributed to attendees at least 24 hours in advance, and attendees are given another 5 to 10 minutes during the meeting to read through the material. This allows you to focus on having valuable discussions, digging into particularly compelling data and ideas, and creating meaningful debates.

Elon Musk is very strict about advance preparation. An anonymous Musk employee wrote on the question-and-answer website Quora: “When we meet with Elon, we will all be fully prepared. Because if you are not prepared and he asks you questions and you can’t answer them, then you will not be able to answer them.” Just hope you’re lucky and don’t get fired.”

Set meeting goals

Any meeting held has its goals and direction. Setting goals is not only to set a direction for everyone to discuss and prevent discussions from deviating from the direction, but also to give everyone a sense of accomplishment and honor after achieving the goal, and to gain a sense of belonging to the team by collectively achieving the goal.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former senior vice president of product Jonathan Rosenberg believe that overly lengthy meetings often lack clearly defined goals and structure. Decision makers need to call a meeting, make sure the content of the meeting is correct, set goals, determine who will participate, and provide participants with the meeting agenda at least 24 hours in advance.

Jeff Weiner, the former CEO of LinkedIn, believes that everyone needs to ask themselves a very simple question at the beginning of the meeting: “What is the goal of this meeting?” This question is very valuable because it can ensure that all Attendees all have the same goal, to focus on keeping the meeting on topic rather than letting the meeting get bogged down in endless off-topic discussions.

Zuckerberg not only believes that you need to ask yourself the goals of the meeting, but also proposes that you need to delineate the goal direction according to different types of meetings. In his view, meetings can be divided into two categories: decision-making meetings and discussion meetings. The former must output a clear decision, such as project review meetings and budget approval meetings, while the latter may bring everyone together to discuss problems and share information, such as morning meetings, brainstorming, project communication meetings, etc. In fact, once the goal of the meeting is confirmed, the type, venue and duration of the meeting are indirectly determined.

Let employees dare to perform

An efficient meeting will never be a one-man show. Only by expressing their own opinions can we discuss the best plan, otherwise the meeting will have no value. Create a discussion space for employees so that everyone can express their opinions candidly, so that creative views and ideas can emerge.

Pixar co-founder Ed Kaymer says that when brainstorming and solving work problems, everyone needs to be clear: Everyone has a different opinion. The meeting needs to be a situation where everyone can speak freely and not be afraid to speak out of embarrassment or fear of criticism.

Jeff Bezos is very opposed to reaching consensus quickly because he thinks it is too easy and perfunctory, so he encourages employees to debate before reaching a decision. But this does not mean that the meeting is meaninglessly prolonged for the sake of debate. It allows everyone to participate in the discussion, or allows two people to deliberately sing the opposite and “quarrel” to gain true knowledge.

Find the “driver”

Many people hate meetings that are too long. One important reason is that a lot of time is wasted on ineffective discussions. The divergent thinking of meeting members often deviates from the theme of the meeting, leading to a decrease in efficiency. At this time, a “driver” is needed to help monitor the main channel of the meeting at all times and improve the quality of the discussion.

Jeff Weiner, the former CEO of LinkedIn, believes that every meeting needs a “driver”, and if there is more than one driver, it will be difficult to get the car on the road. The “driver” is a key task. The main role he needs to play is to ensure that the conversation in the meeting does not go off topic, that no one takes a dominant position in the discussion, and that subordinates appear during the meeting. The discussion is temporarily “offline”.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former senior vice president of product Jonathan Rosenberg suggested that “meetings between two groups of people with equal levels often do not produce good results, because the final result is often a mutual compromise.” , rather than making optimal hard decisions.” They recommend clearly designating a “decision-maker” so that everyone in the meeting knows who has the final say.

Take a moment to define the semantics

Sometimes, the members of the meeting are composed of people from different departments. If there is a lack of understanding of each other, it will be a waste of time to master relevant information, and misunderstandings may occur due to lack of understanding. This not only wastes your own time, but also easily increases the negative impression of the other party. The more high-end the meeting, the more so. Therefore, before the meeting, participants need to have an in-depth understanding of the key words discussed in the meeting.

Jeff Weiner, former CEO of LinkedIn, said: “One thing that amazes me is how often meetings get derailed because of semantic differences. Imagine if you were attending the United Nations General Assembly, but this If you don’t have a live translation headset at a meeting, you can understand the importance of this. Language has a power of its own, so it’s worth spending some time early on to make sure everyone shares the same understanding of certain keywords, phrases and concepts. understanding.”

Elon Musk also attaches great importance to semantic commonality before meetings. He advocates minimizing the use of abbreviations or meaningless words to describe objects, software or processes at Tesla. Generally speaking, anything that requires explanation hinders communication. “We don’t want anyone to have to memorize a glossary in order to work here.”

Assign employees to take meeting minutes

Many companies try their best to record and save the content of the meeting through different forms every time they hold a meeting. However, many record-keepers were appointed temporarily, resulting in incomplete or chaotic records. Recording requires a certain method and experience, as well as arranging the right people.

Jeff Weiner, former CEO of LinkedIn, said, “It’s not that we need to assign someone like a court stenographer to take notes and write down every word; it’s that we need someone who is familiar with the goals of the meeting and understands it. Only those who have a clear understanding of the context can grasp the most important points.”

Not only does this circumvent the classic “Rashomon effect” – where multiple people recall an event in multiple ways – but it also creates a record that can be used for discussion. For investors who were unable to attend the meeting, such notes are also very valuable.

Summarize the tasks and responsibilities that need to be performed

The company’s orderly operation is inseparable from “clear rights and responsibilities”, which can also effectively examine employees’ ability to do things. The same is true for holding meetings. To achieve this, you need to clarify the person in charge of each project or work before the meeting, so that you can ask targeted questions during the discussion. After the meeting reaches a consensus goal. The next step is often to assign tasks. At this time, it is also necessary to assign responsibilities to people to ensure the follow-up quality of the meeting.

When Steve Jobs was in a meeting, if he felt you were unnecessary, he would even kick you out of the meeting. Apple creates an action sheet for any meeting, and next to each action item is the name of the DRI (Directly Responsible Individual). A common saying at Apple is that someone always wants to know who is in charge of a certain project. Someone always asks, “Who was the DRI for that project?”

Jeff Weiner, the former CEO of LinkedIn, values meeting follow-ups. He believes that you should not finish a meeting without summarizing any main conclusions, action items, and next responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Typically, if a meeting goes on so long that people start leaving to rush to the next meeting, this summary is often the first thing forgotten. But this is probably the most important thing about a meeting. Discipline must be in place to ensure attendees stay focused until next steps are discussed and agreed upon.

Data speaks for decision-making

In the data era, numbers can best reflect a company’s overall operations and existing problems. Many companies even have dedicated data departments to analyze product market sales. Decision-making analysis based on data during meetings is undoubtedly more scientific and convincing.

Former Yahoo CEO Melissa Meyer said that the purpose of many meetings is to make decisions, and the process often involves discussion. Alternatives and perspectives are debated and consensus is ultimately reached through one-person decision-making or majority rule. She asks everyone to use data to support their opinions, which can save a lot of time.

That way, decisions are made based on data rather than individual opinions or office politics. Decisions based on hard data also minimize false assumptions and avoid a series of meetings to correct errors.

Ask yourself what you can do better

Participants in the meeting need to reflect at all times and review the entire meeting process: What ideas have not yet been proposed? Which aspect was not considered? What ideas are worth learning from? This is also an important closed loop for creating efficient meetings.

Jeff Weiner, former CEO of LinkedIn, said: “I like to collect feedback at the end of responsible meetings by asking attendees whether they found the meeting valuable and what steps can be taken to improve the future. Improve.” There is no better way to ensure that the meeting is necessary; if the meeting is not necessary, change the objectives or format, or cancel the meeting altogether.

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