30-Minute Meetings

officemtgI was coaching an executive recently and she said she had no time to think strategically. She showed me her calendar and she was right – her day was slammed from one meeting or call to another all day long. I took a deeper look and noticed that all her meetings were one-hour long. I asked her why?  She seemed puzzled by the question.  She assumed that the one-hour block was just standard meeting time. So I suggested that since everyone wanted her time, she demand in exchange that her time be limited to 30 minutes with a rigid agenda. I also told her not to schedule any back to back 30-minute meetings and to use that the now open time to process the previous meeting strategically and prepare for the next one.

I spoke to her two weeks later and she said she felt like her brain lost 20 pounds of weight. She could not believe how this simple calendar change had created time in her day to do so many things that she always felt like she was neglecting but critical to her role. I asked her if anything was compromised as a result of the shorter meetings and without hesitation, she said “no!”

The one-hour meetings in the workplace are one of the more unproductive organizational models and killers of innovative and strategic thought. Rethink your meetings this week. Cut them all to 30 minutes with the parameters I laid out and see if you have the same results as the executive I worked with.


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