In a recent column for 99u.com, Matthew E. May writes about the “lean” meeting. The term, originally coined by Toyota, has become popular in the business world.
May writes, “A lean practitioner looks at the world of work as being one of two things: value-adding, or non value-adding. The ultimate goal of becoming lean is to add value by eliminating everything that doesn’t.”
He applies this idea to meetings, arguing that quick, focused mini-meetings are more efficient than long weeklies, which suck up time and kill productivity. He provides these guidelines for successful meetings:
- Keep it under 12 minutes.
- Commit to using meetings for the singular purpose of making a decision.
- Socialize your content before the meeting using quick huddles, office fly-bys, and one-on-one conversations. Gain input and consensus outside the meeting context, so that the whole notion of “next steps” is limited to being decisive in meetings.
Much like the company-wide email ban, these mini-meetings are one of those potentially great ideas that can easily tank.
It can be tough to change your staff’s behaviour, especially among those employees that have been with the company for more than a few years. Beyond just day-to-day habits, a change like this can mean an entirely new culture. Ask yourself if you want a work environment in which people are meeting only to discuss the bare essentials. Is it important to you that employees feel like they can chat about personal things? Then insisting on 12-minute meetings only may not be your best strategy.
Another note of caution: if your staff’s behaviours are too ingrained and they can’t change, you may end up losing some people. On the other hand, try this with the right type of people and you may cut the deadwood out of their working day, motivating them to push for further efficiencies.