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Book Review: Read This Before Our Next Meeting

Sam Bridegroom  |  Posted Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 06:06:34 PM

(Originally Posted on 9/13/2011 Here)

Image:Book Review: Read This Before Our Next MeetingRead This Before Our Next Meeting, by Al Pittampalli

This was suggested to me be a colleague. I don't have as much opportunity to run meetings as I used to, but I get invited to enough of them to know when they are run (in)effectively. Most are not. I can say that because, frankly, I do run meetings pretty well when they're mine to run.

This book was a great reminder of a lot of the meeting management concepts I developed over the years. My first career was in banking - and might I say some of the meeting-est bunch of people with whom I've ever worked. It was toward the end of that part of my professional life where I learned the value of effective meeting management. I've carried those lessons into my current roles - and it still amazes me how poorly most meetings are run.

The book focuses on Seven Principles of Modern Meetings - I'm not going to list them here (because you need to read the book), but there were three that were fresh approaches from what I'd practiced for so many years; not necessarily different concepts, just different (more concisely stated) angles:
  • The Modern Meeting supports a decision that has already been made.
  • The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared.
  • The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.

There are a couple others not mentioned here that are key companions to these - it really takes all seven principles to make it work. And it will work. I've seen it work. What I need to do now is find a way to make my time spent in meetings more meaningful. If that means nudging a meeting owner to stay on task, or simply to decline attendance because I've got nothing to gain or offer, I'm going to start doing it.

Funny side story - when I finished the book, I tweeted it. The next morning, I got a reply from the author. It's these things that make Twitter so interesting.

One theme that was consistent in both of these books is the value of time - not just my time, but also that of others. Time, from a business perspective, is expensive. Ridiculously expensive when you really think about it, particularly when you start totaling up the collective time spent/wasted in meetings. Add a few management types, and the cost skyrockets.

In January, The Wall St Journal ran a piece on how meetings were run in the NYC Mayor's Office. They were short, sweet and to the point. The 37 Signals blog also referenced this article.

What was the secret? Count-up clocks.  Things like this:   TIM! - The Time Is Money Calculator.
Image:Book Review: Read This Before Our Next Meeting
Plug in the hourly rate and the number of attendees, and it's really easy to see just how expensive the meeting is. In other words, a not-so-subtle reminder not sit around and meet - go get things done.

I'm inviting TIM! to my next few meetings - I'm sure there will be a few opportunities next week to do this. I'm betting the total will be an eye opener. I'll report back.

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