Business Growth, Execution and Productivity, Great Reads, Key Ideas to Think On, Leadership, Strategy

A Pirate’s View of Business Meetings


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A-Pirate’s-View-of-Business-MeetingsIf you’ve spent any time around me, you know that I’m a big proponent of regular business meetings. I’m not talking about meetings just for the sake of meetings—I’m talking about regular meetings with clear objectives and accountability. I’m talking about the kind of meetings that keep you informed about the status of important measureable items (You can call them KPIs if you want—I do!) that keep your business moving in the right direction and not only keep you going, but keep you growing.

I talk about different kinds of regular meetings frequently (Planning, quarterly, monthly, daily, etc.) They’re important. I’ve found certain formats for meetings to be particularly helpful and I often pass them on. But it’s important to remember that the meetings are there to serve the business—and not the other way around.

It’s like my good friend, Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean once said when explaining the Pirate’s Code: “The code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.”

While Captain Barbossa may not have had business meetings in mind, he was still onto something. Consistency and regularity are important, but it’s not a rigid set of rules. You can use flexibility in the exact format of the meeting you have—as long as there is accountability and you cover the important issues.

Startup company, Skyscanner uses something they call “The 22-minute meeting” that employee Mary Porter described in her post, “How the 22-minute meeting saved us 100 working days.” With 15 employees attending a weekly 60-minute meeting, they realized by cutting the meetings to 22 minutes they could save 29,700 minutes (100 working days) a year.

You can read her post here, but here are a few small changes they made that cut the length of time they spent and maximized productivity.

  • Keeping track of time. To respect employees’ time the company agreed each point on the agenda should only have a maximum of 5 minutes. To reinforce that a large clock was brought to the meetings and an alarm sounded after four minutes.
  • Keep things relevant. If further discussion is required the topic is taken off line and pursued by the relevant parties (rather than making everyone sit through details that may not apply to them).
  • Paying attention to etiquette. Noticing that attendees were often late and distracted by messages and emails the company agreed a specific start time of 9.05am and banned laptops/mobiles, unless presenting.

The steps Syscanner took may not be the right steps for your company. That’s not the point. What is important is that they knew meetings were important, but that their current format wasn’t delivering. So they made changes.

Regular meetings are crucial to track progress and to pass on valuable information. But don’t be a slave to your meetings—make sure your meetings are serving your business interests.

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