The 22 Minute Meeting: Are We Saving Time?

When I read Scott Berkun’s post on the 22 minutes meeting, the first thing I loved was the meeting format.

Following good meeting process, the agenda is clear to all, readings are sent out ahead of time, it starts on time, and keeps distractions (phones, laptops) out of the meeting.

For status meetings or meetings held to identify actions and owners, this is a great format: short, sweet and effective.

But for a meeting where you need to

  • Understand a problem
  • Identify solutions or
  • Reach agreement

it seems like we would be forced into more meetings.

After the first 5 minutes of waiting for folks and taking attendance have elapsed and  assuming the last 5 minutes will go to summary and questions about the summary, the time left to understand a problem is 12 minutes.

Twelve minutes:

  • To hear the problem statement
  • Get clarity around the problem statement
  • Receive input from others on the team on how to address the problem

Unless you have 3 people in the meeting, one of whom is the person presenting the problem, you barely have enough time to reach a common understanding of the problem before moving to a discussion of reasonable solution.

What is more likely is that you’ll have just enough time to identify next steps to learn about the problem, which is probably going to include another meeting.

I’m not arguing for longer meetings or more meetings, just an understanding that some problems and discussions take longer than others and meetings that run longer than 22 minutes don’t automatically mean that time has been wasted.

Disagree?  Leave a comment, send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.


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