Stop wasting valuable time in inefficient meetings

Published Oct 05, 2017 | Written by Jeremy Knight

"Death by meeting" is not something that any of us would like to appear as the cause of our demise, though we may all have felt a sense of our own mortality in some meetings we've attended during our working lives.  

At times we may have experienced the dread of the interminable agenda, the pain of labyrinthine discussion among those commonly verbose colleagues and then, the feeling of agonising futility when the meeting ends with no discernible progress or decision, save that there should be yet another meeting... Please, no!!

I'm glad to say that at Equinet, as exponents of an agile scrum approach to client activity and of EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) for managing the business, we've come to experience the beauty of the concise and effective meeting.

Our scrum teams' activity is managed on a daily basis via a quick 15-minute, stand-up meeting, where each team member in turn describes what they achieved the previous day, what they will get done that day and any obstacles to that happening. The benefits of the daily stand up are innumerable: its speed, its efficacy in communicating relevant information to those that need it, its mobility (stand up meetings can happen anywhere), and its success as a forum for identifying action to remove impediment. What's not to like?

EOS, meanwhile, has happily furnished us with another tool that has revolutionised our leadership team and departmental meetings. The Level 10 meeting agenda keeps us to time, to the point and solution-orientated with clear, time-bound actions as the primary output. 

Using the same agenda every time, we have dedicated time to identify the most important issues for the business, to clarify what lies at the heart of those and discuss - each person given time to offer their thoughts - the ways to solve or progress them so that they are fully dealt with. 

As Tom Bouwer explains, writing for the EOS blog, the joy of the Level 10 meeting is that people "walk out of the meeting with a clear resolution on [those] issues—solving them once and for all with everyone on the same page."

Surely, the ability to make optimal use of our scarce time whether in business or personal lives is what we all deserve. Elon Musk - as the article below from the UK Business Insider points out - believes that you should only be in a meeting if there’s a reason to be: either to be part of a specific decision or to provide particular information.

Meetings are a necessary part of doing business, whatever guise they take; just make sure that your valuable time is spent in those that are well-structured, useful and enjoyable


Most people don't like to have their time wasted with unnecessary meetings.

But Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, has a strategy to keep things moving, a former SpaceX employee posted on Quora.

The former employee relayed a story where Musk once called out an employee in a meeting. He wrote:

"Elon to a meeting member: 'You haven't said anything. Why are you in here?'

The former employee further explained Musk's rationale for making such a blunt proclamation.

"That may be borderline rude, but it makes sense," he wrote. "Don't be in a meeting unless there's a purpose for it; either to make a decision, or get people up to speed. In most cases, an email will suffice."


Published by Jeremy Knight October 5, 2017
Jeremy Knight