What if…?

Last week Seth Godin said “all those meetings you have tomorrow – they were just cancelled. What would you do with the time?” If I was still in corporate land there’s a large part of me that would have cheered, and thought ‘great’ more time to catch up’. Even today there are times when I’d welcome it but at least now I can ensure there aren’t meetings for meetings sake.

But what he actually said was “all those meetings you have tomorrow – they were just cancelled. The boss wants you to do something productive instead. What would you do with the time? What would you initiate? If it’s better than those meetings were going to be, why not cancel them?”

Why did I focus on the just a couple of phrases? Because the email title was ‘cancelled ‘ and my brain immediately gave me permission to cancel the meetings but if we look more deeply into what he wrote there’s perhaps a different take on it…

What if we consider the following… Why was the meeting called in the first place? Was it to discuss something, to catch up, agree on actions, plan and ponder or something else?

  • And if you think ‘I’d love to cancel the meeting’ how do you think the other people feel? So why not try this… call each person and say “I’ve been thinking about our meeting and just wondered if we could approach it differently?” What you say next will depend on the purpose of the meeting.
  • If the meeting was to ‘discuss things and agree next actions’ then could you do that as a conference call, where everyone would have read the papers in advance and all you’re doing is addressing the discussion items, and agreeing action points and timelines. I guarantee the call would be much quicker than the meeting and more cost effective too.
  • If the meeting was simply ‘a catch up’ then check in that its still the best time for both of you, and the items the person wants to catch up on. It might be by phone or it might be better to meet. Not everything is best dealt with on the phone; person to person can be the best way to have a conversation.
  • Or you might also consider this, you’ll all have things to do for the meeting, to move a project forward etc. why not have a chat at the start of the day and agree actions you’ll each take during the day, commit to having them done by a certain time and then, at the end of the day, catch up to discuss what you’ve done and next steps. You’ll have been more focused, more productive and more motivated and again there’ll be less time spent in the chats than in the meetings and more time doing things that matter.
  • And if the meeting was for planning and pondering then there’s nothing better than a white board and pens and large post it notes but plan the session, agree before hand what everyone wants out of it, and do some pre-planning and pondering as a warm up. It makes a difference…
If we do any or all of the above then we’ll be fulfilling the ‘being more productive’ and we’ll probably be initiating a new way of working and some even better relationships. So how about it?