The mere mention of a meeting can send people scrambling for the solace of a long email chain. But meetings don’t have to be catalysts for eye rolls or iPhone games. Creativity is key.
Despite meetings being productive for collaborative purposes, “they can become the default response to uncertainty,” writes Brian Bailey, founder of the social network Uncommon. His idea is to make people pay for meetings.
That won’t fly in the government, but you can shake up your workplace gatherings.
Sometimes meetings need a specific, unique element to spice up the routine:
- Advertising firm Wexley School for Girls convenes daily morning meetings at 9:07 at picnic tables in the office.
- Post Growth Institute, an international virtual group working for global prosperity, holds monthly meetings via video conference. In total silence. Everyone types their interactions.
- GovLoop takes five minutes of each staff meeting to let a chosen staffer show-and-tell on any topic.
Sometimes, the originality comes with the implementation:
- Caterina Fake, Flickr co-founder, makes everyone drink 16 ounces of water. The meeting ends with the first bathroom break.
- Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and The Washington Post owner, has some of the most famous advice. He wants teams (and presumably, their meetings) to never require more than two pizzas to feed everyone. Steve Jobs wasn’t a fan of overpopulated meetings, either.
- Or take a play from Mark Cuban. The Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner skips meetings unless he’s closing a deal.
Cuban’s philosophy means that people shouldn’t hold a meeting unless absolutely necessary. Inevitably, though, in government we all need to meet with our groups for check-ins and decisions. Simplicity is success: Spend the first two minutes outlining what you’ll cover to give people their bearings, then do it.
Dustin Renwick works in conjunction with the Innovation Team in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development. The opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.
Dustin Renwick is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.