Are you leading in a meeting culture? Meeting cultures exist in those teams and organizations where meetings have become the essence of work. In meeting cultures, spending time in meetings counts as producing results. Meetings take on so much value that pre-meetings, meetings after meetings, and meetings to plan meetings are commonplace.
Leaders in these cultures often have meeting calendars filled to capacity. Back-to-back-to-back meetings become the norm. Organizations metastasize into meeting cultures when reputations become more important than results. When people get ahead largely through relationships and reputations, it then seems to make sense that meetings are where things happen.
Meeting cultures are painful for leaders who value action and results. Good cultures stimulate dialogue and drive toward outcomes. Meeting cultures emphasize strong consensus and moving cautiously toward consequences.
The danger of meeting cultures is abundantly clear. Meeting cultures underperform by the nature of their focus — meetings over results.
Leaders, even those who have inherited their place in a deeply-committed meeting culture, owe it to their team to break the force of unnecessary meetings. Setting aggressive deadlines, holding individuals accountable for tasks, and pushing people into productive activity is the first step.
Be conscious of your role in moving the team or organization toward more and more meetings, many of which add little value. Stop calling for meetings! Keep the metrics representing results in front of the team instead. Resist attending any meeting that isn’t absolutely necessary. Remind the team to bias for action. We don’t need to meet about that.
Elon Musk has some epic rules for meetings and stuff:
1 No large meetings unless they’re of value to the entire audience. Keep them short.
2 Don’t have frequent meetings unless the matter is truly urgent. Resolve it; stop meeting.
3 If you are not adding value to a meeting, walk out or drop off the call.
4 Don’t use acronyms and nonsense words for objects, software, or processes.
5 Avoid any terms that require explanation, because they inhibit communication.
6 Communicate directly with individuals rather than through a chain of command.
7 Any manager enforcing chain-of-command communication will be fired.
8 Don’t follow any “company rule” that doesn’t make common sense.
9 Ideas that increase productivity or happiness are always welcome.