Take the Whack-A-Meeting Challenge

With apologies to Charles Dudley Warner or Mark Twain or perhaps both, have you noticed everybody talks about meetings, but nobody seems to do anything about them? Well let’s get active here, people, because it’s high time to rescue work from the meetings.

I recently happened by Robert Davis’s desk and caught a glimpse of his calendar. (see below) Now, as our EVP of Strategy, I know he’s a guy in serious demand. Even so, the reality of his schedule stopped me in my tracks. I found myself gazing at the screen in a mixture of curiosity and horror and finally walked away shaking my head wondering, “When does he get any work done?” I asked him that very question later in the day, but beat a quick retreat upon discovering I’d interrupted one of only two quick respites he had the entire week.


Would you want this schedule? I wouldn’t.

Okay. I know this is a collaborative industry and a lot of important stuff gets done in meetings. But the highest value work comes from uninterrupted thinking time. So I’m throwing down the gauntlet to PJA management and, in fact, everyone reading this post.

Take the Whack-a-Meeting Challenge.

  • Schedule a shortie. Ever been to a meeting that began on time? I haven’t. There are always seven or eight minutes of small talk first. Schedule your start for ten minutes after the hour or half hour. It’ll still fit. Know why? Half-hour TV shows are actually about 22 minutes (and hour shows about 46). We’re already trained to work with the shortened schedule.
  • Stand up your invitees. Nothing keeps a meeting moving like not sitting down. It adds an urgency and focus that cannot be denied.
  • Whack people. Even if someone’s contribution is vital to the project, maybe it doesn’t have to be in the meeting. Perhaps a five-minute conversation beforehand is enough to get whatever insight is required.
  • Practice the Rule of 4. Back-to-back meetings aren’t good for anyone’s productivity — or psyche. You can see everyone’s schedule in Outlook, so make sure you’re not overcommitting anyone. If people already have four hours of meetings, don’t add them to the invite (see #3). Or move your meeting to a different day.
  • Think eR, not IR.  Once you’ve been working as a team for a while, you know how everyone thinks. Why not channel your coworkers while engaging in your task, and then let them comment in an e-Review to make sure nothing important was overlooked? It’s not going to work every time, but it’ll work most of them.

As you can see, the benefits of this challenge are so plainly obvious they don’t require reciting. Which is good because I’m short on time… I have to run to a meeting.

Let us help your innovation-driven brand get the credit it deserves.

Contact Greg Straface at [email protected]


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