Photo by esteban, CC BY 4.0.

Photo by esteban, CC BY 4.0.

Is there ever a good time for a meeting?

Maybe it’s not the timing of meetings that cause grief and general resentment. Maybe it’s the amount of time meetings take.

At Changelane, we’ve been playing around with validating this idea. We know that meetings are essential. You have to be aware of what the members of your team are doing. So, no – we haven’t banished meetings from our offices.

What we have banished are meetings that are not respectful of reciprocity. “Should we have a meeting” also means asking, “Will every participant receive as much as they give?”

Yes, that’s not always exactly possible. Sometimes you spend the majority of a meeting just listening; but nevertheless, you should leave feeling as if the time you invested was justified.

Our biggest meeting experiment to date is what we call “10 @ 10.” Each day, those members of our team who are physically present at the Changelane offices stop and gather. It used to be around a hideously uncomfortable couch we purchased from Ikea, but said couch really was banished from our offices.

The purpose of our “10 @ 10” is for each of us to update the team members present about the most important thing we are working on that day, as well as to push out any requests that the team as a whole could make quick work of. If something is brought up sparking a discussion that can’t be concluded in less than a minute, our resident “Time Nazi” (that would be me) suggests that the conversation be resumed at the conclusion of the “10 @ 10” or some other time.

We’ve found that generally we can move through our whole team and have a comfortable understanding of what each will focus on that day – and wrap it up in about 10 minutes. We hold it at 10 a.m. because it allows each team member to experience enough of the day to decide whether what they share is indeed their most important thing.

Sometimes we get distracted. Something grabs our attention and “10 @ 10” turns into “104 @ 10.” That’s okay because although you can schedule a meeting, you can’t schedule a breakthrough. We haven’t succeeded yet, but we’re on our way toward banishing the phrase “stuck in a meeting” from our lexicon.

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