3 Ideas in 2 Minutes on Business Meetings
Humanity's Full Potential, Bikeshedding & Elon’s Productivity Tips
I. Humanity’s Full Potential
Humour columnist Davrry on the major inhibitor of progress:
If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.
The Law of Triviality, aka Bikeshedding, claims that meetings are largely useless because most time is wasted on trivial matters. It was formulated by C. Northcote Parkinson in 1957:
The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved.
—C. Northcote Parkinson, The Law of Triviality
Parkinson illustrates his point with an elaborate fictional case study about a committee asked to sign off on a $10,000,000 Atomic Reactor. Little time is spent talking about the actual reactor, a highly technical, difficult and complex matter. Considerably more time is spent on discussing the intricacies of the staff’s $2,000 bike shed, a topic everyone can contribute to. Most time, however, is spent debating a trivial agenda item about $5 coffee refreshments for future committee sessions.
Sounds familiar? I’ve looked into solutions for Bikeshedding here.
III. Elon’s Productivity Tips
CEO and pop culture phenomenon Elon Musk isn’t a fan of meetings either. Here’s Elon in an email to Tesla employees:
Btw, here are a few productivity recommendations:
Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get [rid] of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.
Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.
Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.
—Elon Musk, email to Tesla employees
Have a great week,
P.S.: Check out my latest post on the OODA Loop: How to Make Fast Decisions in Disorienting Situations