As a young boy in the 1970s, I was excited to receive my first set of “Grow Monsters.” Cheap toys made from a super-absorbent polymer, these small, shapeless specks would expand by up to 500% of their original size when placed in water. Fullgrown, they were supposed to resemble dinosaurs and other fearsome creatures, with the process designed to delight and amaze naïve young lads like me.
Of course, the real experience was neither delightful nor amazing. The fad passed fairly quickly, and about ten years ago this entire category of toys was taken off the market. When ingested, apparently, Grow Monsters and other toys like them could cause choking deaths.
While not likely causing any actual deaths, the same phenomenon has been killing morale and productivity in companies for decades. Only in these cases, it’s not super-absorbent polymers that expand exponentially – it’s meetings.
Tame Your Monstrous Company Meetings
If your company has too many meetings that are too long and include too many people – you’re not alone. Like Grow Monsters thrown in a lake, meetings called with good intentions tend to absorb too much time and produce too little value.
When implementing EOS, companies adopt a two-part “Meeting Pulse” that helps every team in the organization efficiently keep its circles connected, align around a common vision and set of priorities, and drive accountability for achieving that vision on a weekly and quarterly basis.
The Off-Line Meeting Track™
The company and its leaders also learn to implement an “Off-Line Meeting Track” – five steps to make ad-hoc, one-off meetings shorter and more productive:
- Agree on what we intend to accomplish in the meeting.
- Agree on the most efficient way to achieve that objective.
- Specify pre-work. What needs to be done before the meeting to achieve the objective?
- Send out the objective, agenda, and pre-meeting assignments to everyone, and provide adequate prep time.
- Start every meeting clear, aligned, and committed to staying on track. Begin by stating the objectives and reviewing the agenda. Make sure everyone is clear and remains focused on the objective.
Tips for More Effective Meetings
In addition to implementing the Meeting Pulse and Off-Line Meeting Track in your business, consider these additional tips:
- Don’t call a meeting at all if there’s a better, more efficient way to achieve your objective.
- Don’t invite people who get or provide little to no value in the meeting. If you can achieve the objective with three people, don’t invite eight.
- If you can accomplish the objective in twenty minutes, don’t schedule the meeting for an hour. Like Grow Monsters, meetings will expand to the size and shape of their container.
- When you’re not sure whether a meeting is valuable and productive, ask! Get regular, candid feedback from participants in recurring meetings, and adjust accordingly. When you hold an off-line meeting, collect feedback at the end and use it to improve your next meeting.
There are only 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Don’t let meetings behave like Grow Monsters – expanding to consume too much time and choking the life out of you and your team. Consider implementing these two EOS Tools and applying some of these simple tips. In an entrepreneurial company, after all, every minute counts.