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12 Feb

How Google keep their meetings efficient

Date: 2010-02-12 09:21 Comments: 2 st

Most of us spend much of our days in meetings. At the risk of generalizing, I dare say that we all have experienced meetings that we wish we had not attended and that turned out not quite what we had expected. There may be meetings where do not come to any decision, meetings that get prolonged, meetings that start late, meetings that are completely chaotic, etc.

When you want to refine the way you do something, it is a good idea to ask the pros, those that apparently manage to develop their businesses from success to success, mostly by having meetings. A while ago, BusinessWeek published an interview with Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of search products, where she shared her top six tips to keep her meetings efficient.

Marissa’s meetings

The six tips are:

  1. Set a firm agenda.
  2. Assign a note-taker.
  3. Carve out micro-meetings. (5-10 min) from a larger block of time
  4. Hold office hours.
  5. Discourage politics, use data.
  6. Stick to the clock.

Yes, that is it. They weren’t revolutionary ideas, were they, that would be impossible to implement in our organisation?

Worth highlighting

However, I would like to highlight two of the tips, namely No. 3 and No. 4, on micro-meetings and on office hours.

I think we could gain even more time, if we created formats for very short meetings, instead of routinely reserve an hour (or more) for each meeting that we summon. At least I would.

If I think of the time when I had subordinates (before I became a struktör), I would have had much benefit from holding office hours regularly, say, one hour each day when I would be available and willing to have short drop-in sessions with colleagues. If we really respect that hour and make sure we are available when we say we will be, we will be less interrupted by colleagues at other times, because they know when they can reach us (and when we are most inclined to help).

What do you think?

Please leave a comment below.

Read the complete BusinessWeek feature


Ola Berg

Ola Berg writes:

#1 - 2010-02-12, 10:48

Timeboxed meetings is the shit. With small boxes.

Something I learned from using the development methodology Scrum, where we timebox the daily meeting to 15 mins.

David Stiernholm

David Stiernholm writes:

#2 - 2010-02-12, 11:18

Ola: That sounds great. I spoke to a friend this weekend about to what extent good experiences from Scrum have spread in to the “non-IT-development”-related world.

Timeboxed meetings, as you describe them, would be a splendid example of that.

I’ll actually try it out by booking 30 min meetings instead of the standard 60 minutes for a couple of weeks and see how it turns out.

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