Planning for meetings often takes a lot of schedule and topic juggling. Trying to schedule a meeting with more than eight people can often be a logistical nightmare. People are busy!
Do you plan for an in-person or phone meeting? A series of small decisions go into making a meeting, which may seem insignificant. But these decisions can affect your day and even productivity levels. There are also a lot of unnecessary meetings that end up consuming your whole day. I’ve had weeks where meetings took up more than 50 percent of my time! Looking back maybe only 10 percent of those meetings were necessary to do in person to resolve an issue. The other 40 percent could have easily been a quick email recap or phone call.
I was recently reading about Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and how he adheres to a strict rule called the “two pizza rule.” If two pizzas cannot feed the entire group in a meeting, he will not attend. Two pizzas in general could feed anywhere between four to eight people, depending on a few factors. In general, it has been said over the course of a year, he spends about six hours in meetings with Amazon investors.
This rule not only keeps meetings in small groups, but helps counteract groupthink and foster innovation and ideas. Groupthink occurs when a group makes a decision in order to foster unity, but in turn discourages creativity and individual thinking. This can lead to poor decision-making outcomes.
Small meetings encourage discussing the issue more efficiently as well as greater discussion into potential solutions to issues at hand. People feel more engaged in smaller meetings as well. With larger meetings, it is very easy to be less engaged and involved. What this rule filters out are unnecessary meetings that could have been done in a quick email recap or alternative medium.
When planning for meetings, I first try to gauge whether this meeting is best in person or not. Setting an agenda and passing it around beforehand also helps. It helps to identify the topics to be discussed at the meeting. It also guides and keeps the meeting on track so there are very few deviations. Using the two-pizza rule is a great way to keep meetings shorter, more efficient and more productive.
For more reading on improving your meetings, check out these resources:
Elaine Nghiem is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.