Stop Having Meetings

If you are really in a state of Free Standing Agility, you probably are not having very many meeting. That is because you have replaced them with serendipitous interactions.

Serendipitous interactions are nodes in an endless flow or chain of interactions. Examples include brief conversations of 2,3 4 or more people. These conversations are usually ‘listenable’ by others in proximity.

Think about co-located space. When a team is on one room, the entire space facilitates one flow-chain of conversation through time. I can initiate a conversation, or be invited to converse, or listen to the conversations of others. Co-location is a very good tool for eliminating the typical meeting.

The typical meeting is complicated to arrange, and has nearly-automatic dysfunction potential. I plan to explain this dynamic in much more detail a bit later. Let’s just assume for now that meetings are generally counter-productive. Don’t agree? OK, here, I have a question for you: when is the last time you participated in a KICK-ASS conference call? When is the last time you can out of meeting energized? OK, now let’s change channels: when is the last time you were in a meeting and wondered why you had to be there? When is the last time you told yourself, “this meeting is a complete waste of my time”. And so on. STOP HAVING MEETINGS.

To engineer these interaction flows, you need certain elements to be in place. These are depicted in the Swiss Cheese Model of Serendipity, depicted below:


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For now, suspend your disbelief. Act ‘as if’ this might be true, OK? Imagine a world of ‘no meetings’. What does it look like?

Now …..imagine a perfect score for number-of-meetings is ‘zero’, just like a perfect golf score is ’18’. We can never reach this ideal perfect score, and that is OK. What is more important is that we know the perfect score, and try to get closer and closer to it.

Yes, some meetings are essential. MOST ARE NOT.

Pay attention and notice that Scrum minimizes the meetings. It still has three. Scrum tends to minimize the number of necessary meetings. Scrum can get you questioning why you have 87 meetings a month. Co-location also tends to do this same thing.

Stop having meetings. Instead, focus on communication-flow in your work place, and engineer as much of this as you can. Did I mention that meetings can actually reduce communication flow across your organization?

In what other ways can you reduce your meeting count?

What changes can you make? What online tools might reduce your meeting count?

How many meeting that you attend do you actually enjoy?

What meeting are essential for your context? Which ones do not really matter?

What is energizing your organization’s focus on non-essential meetings?

Why are you attending meeting that you do not enjoy?

A good Agile Coach can help you think about (and execute on) reducing your meeting count while actually increasing your overall communication frequency and level of alignment across teams and the entire organization.