The 60-minute modular meeting & rule of seven
Deadlines make us more efficient without detracting from the effectiveness of our meetings. To minimize the impact of Parkinson’s Law (activities expanding to fill the time allowed for them) try breaking all your meetings into one-hour modules. Most meetings can’t be completed in their entirety in one hour. Others may need several one-hour modules. But outlaw open-ended meetings that have a long list of agenda items and no timeframes. They invariably consume more time than necessary.
Draw up an agenda with the 80/20 Rule in mind. (20% of the items on the agenda represent 80% of the value that will be obtained from the meeting.) The first one-hour module contains the most significant items. The second one-hour module, if one is needed, contains more items, but of less importance. If a third hour is needed, group all the remaining items into this one-hour module.
By doing this, the amount of time spent on agenda items is proportional to the importance of the items, rather than by the number of items discussed. You have also prioritized the order of business, and have built in deadlines – which will further increase efficiency.
All the personal anecdotes, news, reviews, and shaggy dog stories can be left until after the meeting, and limited to those people with nothing better to do with their time.
You might also streamline your meetings more by using the “Rule of Seven.” People development specialist Terry Patten mentioned in his newsletter how you might decide on the right number of people to have a good meeting. According to the new book, Decide and Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough and Performance in your Organization, once you have seven people in a decision-making group, every additional person reduces effectiveness by 10 percent.