Displayed below is an extraction called “Getting Real: Meetings Are Toxic – from 37 Signals on the efficiency (inefficiency) of meetings:
Don’t have meetings
Do you really need a meeting? Meetings usually arise when a concept isn’t clear enough. Instead of resorting to a meeting, try to simplify the concept so you can discuss it quickly via email or im or Campfire. The goal is to avoid meetings. Every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead.
There’s nothing more toxic to productivity than a meeting. Here’s a few reasons why:
- They break your work day into small, incoherent pieces that disrupt your natural workflow
- They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things (like a piece of code or some interface design)
- They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute
- They often contain at least one moron that inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense
- They drift off-subject easier than a Chicago cab in heavy snow
- They frequently have agendas so vague nobody is really sure what they are about
- They require thorough preparation that people rarely do anyway
For those times when you absolutely must have a meeting (this should be a rare event), stick to these simple rules:
- Set a 30 minute timer. When it rings, meeting’s over. Period.
- Invite as few people as possible.
- Never have a meeting without a clear agenda.
Have fewer meetings
There are too many meetings. Push back on meetings that do not make sense or are unproductive. Only book a meeting when you have an important business issue to discuss and you want or need input, approval, or agreement. Even then, resist the urge to invite everyone and their brother — don’t waste people’s time unnecessarily.
—Lisa Haneberg, author (from Don’t Let Meetings Rule!)
Break it Down
As projects grow, adding people has a diminishing return. One of the most interesting reasons is the increased number of communications channels. Two people can only talk to each other; there’s only a single comm path. Three workers have three communications paths; 4 have 6. In fact, the growth of links is exponential…Pretty soon memos and meetings eat up the entire work day.
The solution is clear: break teams into smaller, autonomous and independent units to reduce these communications links.
Similarly, cut programs into smaller units. Since a large part of the problem stems from dependencies (global variables, data passed between functions, shared hardware, etc.), find a way to partition the program to eliminate — or minimize — the dependencies between units.