In a recent article that talks about how Google is seeking to regain some of it’s start-up responsiveness while still growing Kristen Gil, Google’s VP of Operation explains some of the changes that they are making. One of the changes is in the way that they do meetings. Here is what she said:
One of our first observations was that many meetings weren’t working as well as they should. A well-run meeting is a great thing; it empowers people to make decisions, solve problems, and share information. But badly-run meetings are a demoralizing waste of time. We didn’t want our employees to waste either time or energy, so we gathered input and made some recommendations to help make meetings more effective.
For starters, we noted that every decision-oriented meeting should have a clear decision-maker, and if it didn’t, the meeting shouldn’t happen. Those meetings should ideally consist of no more than 10 people, and everyone who attends should provide input. If someone has no input to give, then perhaps they shouldn’t be there. That’s okay – attending meetings isn’t a badge of honor – but the people who are attending need to get there on time. Most importantly, decisions should never wait for a meeting. If it’s critical that a meeting take place before a decision is made, then that meeting needs to happen right away.
Common sense mostly, but there are many organisations where a rigorous applications of these kind of rules would make a massive difference. I certainly agree with the sentiments of good meetings being great and poor meetings being "a demoralising waste of time".
One of the ideas that is gaining traction where I work is the two pizza meeting. In other words the maximum size of a meeting is one that can be fed from by two pizzas. This is a follow on from something Jeff Bezos of Amazon instigated – the two pizza team.