Five Minute Meeting

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The latest war on meeting bloat – meetings that are long and inefficient — is leading some employers to squeeze minor decision making issues into a few minutes. Tech companies embraced the concept of having brief daily check-in meetings years ago.  These management techniques are now being adopted by other industries, such as marketing, e-commerce, advertising and other fields.

The new trend is changing traditional workplace rites and routines, such as long winded monologues and PowerPoint presentations. There is no time for small talk, and less tolerance for meetings that last for 30 minutes to an hour, when five to fifteen minutes will cover the same groundwork.  Employees are now having to learn how to be concise and to the point when presenting ideas or requests during a meeting.

Scrum50, a digital marketing company in South Norwalk, Connecticut, start the day with brief daily meetings that start on time and finish within four to six minutes. Chris Partner, one of the managing partners, told the Wall Street Journal, “if you’re five or six minutes late, you’ve missed it.” Creative professionals are learning how to adapt to this new style of office communication, and leaving their egos at the door.

Jack Skeels, a chief executive of Agency-Agile, Los Angeles, a management training firm, says that meeting leaders now employ the “three-bounce rule.” After three back and forth exchanges between two meeting attendees, the topic is shelved for further discussion at a later meeting. Other meeting leaders impose a “so that” rule, meaning any update must include how the decision will impact others, such as “I completed my work on that project so that Angela can take it to the client today,” Mr. Skeels says.

Asking a colleague to coffee to discuss projects takes too long, said chief executive Charlie Kin of 121 Nexus, a Boston software developer.  He conducts “lightening meetings” among his employees, which “has energy, it has action, people are shocked by it and everything about it truly moves.” When vendors come to him to request 30 minutes for a coffee, he gives them ten minutes instead. “Thirty minutes is a lot. What are we going to achieve?” he says. He prefers to cut short the banter that takes place during the first five minutes: “How are you doing? How are the kids?” he says. “To respect the other person’s time, maybe you need to get right to it,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We all drink way too much coffee already.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, “New Meeting Rules: Five Minutes, Max,” by Sue Shellenbarger, November 8, 2017

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