Business meetings: is there any more frustrating part of cubicle life? Sure, they are a necessity for lots of reasons, but who hasn’t sat through some interminable meeting thinking how much more they could be getting accomplished back at their desk? There’s something about the meeting format that is just ripe for time-wasting, getting off track, arguments and pointless exercises.
Large corporations have to know how to reign that wastefulness in to be successful, so we took a look at how some of the biggest companies in the world keep their meetings fast and efficient. Read on for their rules to meet by.
Nissan: the counter-intuitive approach
The rules at Nissan were not suggested by some outside management consultants, but were developed and approved by actual Nissan employees, under the initiative of CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Do not take down minutes
At the end of the meeting, the things that have been written down on the whiteboard are photographed and distributed as meeting minutes so it’s not necessary to take individual notes.
The boss may not attend
If the boss, that is to say the highest ranking member who has decision-making power, attends a meeting, it would be hard for lower-ranking people to voice dissenting opinions. He or she could also change the topic, derailing discussion, and no one would be able to object. So Nissan decided to exclude that person.
Google: accommodating unique work styles
Google is known for its unique and individualistic atmosphere. Of course, its meetings reflect that.
Discussion of a project or topic is limited to 5 or 10 minutes
This rule was put in pace to prevent whole days being eaten up by meetings. The scheduling also prevents having a pointless breaks during long meetings that just waste time.
Decision-making meetings are limited to 10 people
It’s more efficient to collect opinions beforehand and then meet to decide the matter.
Canon: ditch the chairs and computers
Canon became famous when its president got rid of all their office chairs and some computers. Of course, their meetings are conducted on their feet as well.
No chairs or computers allowed
This supposedly keeps meetings short and fast-paced. According to the company, this has reduced time spent in meetings by half and upped the pace of problem solving.
Gurunavi: the bring your hobby to work approach
Gurunavi is Japan’s biggest and best known restaurant search engine. They’ve had some unexpected results from encouraging a health-related hobby.
Meetings can be held while walking the 70-min course around the Imperial Palace
This custom began when an older employee started walking the course for his health and asked some younger coworkers to join him. The company says the exercise stimulated the brain, which makes it easier to come up with new ideas. It has the additional advantage that it’s hard to hear what people are saying unless you are right next to them, so it’s a good time to discuss confidential or delicate matters.
Kirin Beer: old dog, new trick
This venerable company has been adopting new and unique approaches.
Hold 60-minute Q&A meetings
These meetings are not Q&A in the traditional sense, but rather a form of collective problem solving. A questioner brings a problem, and the group just suggests possible answers.
Hatena: Users Welcome
Web services provider already has a reputation for having a very liberal corporate culture, but you might be surprised to know users are invited to their meetings.
You will take requests from users and implement them
In the user participation meetings, requests from users are separated into four categories: implement right away, implement at some point, pending, and finished, allowing the company to better manage user feedback.
Mitsubishi Industries: time managers
Mitsubishi Industries famously instituted a policy of locking their doors at 7PM to insure employees went home on time. They also have a very strict time limit on meetings.
You must reach a conclusion within an hour
Given this limitation on time, employees have started to distribute materials ahead of time leaving the meeting solely for discussion purposes.
Well, folks, there you have it. I can see the sense in some of these suggestions, but others seem a tad draconian. Do you think these rules would work at your office? Or do you have rules of your own that might surprise us? Tell us in the comments.