10 Simple Rules for Holding Lean Meetings

 Try these tips to make your meetings more effective:

Rule 1 Is this meeting really necessary?
Avoid the meeting that could have been an email.  Limit update meetings - there are better ways to keep people informed, like using quad charts. 
Rule 2 Reduce the duration of meetings.
Try to keep meetings to no more than 30 minutes. Pre-work helps.  Use a timed agenda and distribute before-hand so all participants are prepared.
Rule 3 Use SPACER to guide meetings you need to have.
Effective meeting management tools make all of your meetings more productive.  You can read more about SPACER in my Effective Meetings article.
Rule 4 Meetings start and end on time.
If people could save 20 minutes per day it frees up over 2 weeks per person per year.  No you can’t take it as vacation, but maybe you could get home earlier or be more effective on the job. 
Rule 5 Stay focused on the meeting.
Meetings are expensive!  Figure out the hourly labor cost of the meeting and then double it to cover the things people could be doing otherwise.  If you had to write a check would the meeting be worth it?
Rule 6 Take meeting minutes.
If you can’t remember what you had for breakfast yesterday how can you remember important tasks?  Keep notes in the form of who does what by when and follow up on the action items before next meeting.
Rule 7 Only invite those people who have a need to be there.
If someone only has input on one topic then let them go first.  Don’t make them sit through things they can’t influence. Why waste their time too?
Rule 8 Use a meeting “parking lot”.   
Issues we can’t resolve because of missing people or information should be captured for future action rather than discussion without resolving them.
Rule 9 We still have to work together after the meeting ends.
Stick to facts, not attacks, and don’t let tempers guide the meeting.
Rule 10 Consider stand-up meetings AKA “go to the gemba”
Go to the area under discussion rather than guessing in a conference room. 
Bonus Rule 11 Have an outcome to the meeting.
If the result of having a meeting is scheduling another meeting, then the time was likely wasted.

Try these rules and see how your meeting quality can improve!

To read Part II of this article on effective email strategies click here

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