Lots of companies are following Shopify’s lead and encouraging, if not requiring, fewer and smaller meetings.

Time-wasting meeting
How to waste time at strategic planning meetings

Some of you may be dubious about the anti-meeting craze. You will defiantly continue to insist that the leadership team periodically congregate to make decisions affecting your company’s future and viability.

You might even think that the result of such gaetherings – whether that’s the old-fasioned off-site, the budget-consciou on-site, or the post-Covid Zoom-fest – can produce alignment on strategy, clear and measurable objectives, and commitment to specific action plans.

Or maybe you’re a true traditionalist, and simply like to waste everyone’s time. For you,  I’ve created this handy list.  It should be easy to recall the simple acronym. These practices will ensure that your planning meeting will be a resounding waste of time while enabling your organization to continue on whatever paths it’s already meandering between.

  1. Preparation: Everyone is extremely busy, so don’t bother participants with prep materials before the meeting. They won’t read them anyway.
  2. Participation: The decisions you intend to make will impact the entire company.  Make sure as many people as possible are there to participate and contribute to the discussion and the decision-making.  The more the merrier, and Zoom maket it easy to be inclusive.
  3. Presentations: Everyone is an experienced professionals so there’s no need to provide guidance or a standard format for the information they will be sharing.
  4. Ploddery: The participants know what level of detail is appropriate for this audience, and you should provide plenty of time for each lecturer to plod through their bullet points.
  5. Politeness: If anyone’s presentation runs over, don’t be rude by intrrupting. Instead, use beaks and lunch as natural stopping points. You can catch up during that flexible ½ hour you built into the agenda in the afternoon.
  6. Parking: When disagreement arises, quickly shut down any debate and write the item in a list titled “parking lot.”  Meetings are no place to hash out differences in opinion and can create unnecessary and uncomfortable conflict.  In any case, most disagreeents are either too minor to worry about, or too big to address in the meeting and should be worked out later.
  7. Phone: Use the breaks to peruse email, Slack, calendar invites, voicemail, and Insta.  You’re spending the entire day talking, so no need to keep that up during the breaks.  If anyone has a concern or opinion, they will tell you eventually.
  8. Plan: People always take notes during these meetings, so you can rely on them to keep track of action items or other plan dependencies.
  9. People: It’s a long meeting, so when you get back, dive into the work that got delayed while you were away. You can tell people what happened and about any decisions that got made when you run into them next time you’re in the office.

Have a wonderfully unproductive day.

2 Responses

  1. Too true, Lilia! I’ve seen every one of these. OK, here’s one more:
    8. We’re smart and professional. We can sit in our seats for hours on end and make good decision after good decision based on whatever information is presented. Why waste time breaking up into smaller groups to discuss the info or getting out our seats to co-design something on a white board.

  2. Lilia Shirman, I recently had the good fortune of reading this article
    regarding Large conference room, Specific action plans. & Good
    decision. It is well-written and contained sound, practical advice. In
    fact, I have already benefited from your discussion on Day-to-day
    minutia. I look forward to reading your next informative work. Thank

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