It’s probably safe to assume that everybody is time stretched, multi-tasking, lacking sleep, and tackling gobs of work while defending against new stuff, last minute requests, and “urgent” asks.  And as things get crazier, it’s more important than ever to meet face-to-face, or connect on the phone to make sure the brief is right, the request is clearly understood, the team is on the right path, or the storyline is spot on — you decide which one of those applies, but suffice it to say, there’s a potentially conflicting dynamic in play:  less time available, but more need to connect.

And this is where the tech guys save the day.  What’s better than those 15 minute sprint meetings, or scrums, or any really cool-sounding effort?  Watch the tech guys huddle around the key deliverables, or the bug list, or key code changes — they’re standing, moving fast, making decisions, and moving on.

So why not embrace this mindset everywhere?  I’m trying my best to get rid of 60 minute meetings.  They are a crutch — if you block off 60 minutes, it will probably take 60 minutes.  My regular 1-on-1s are now 30 minutes.  If we need more time, we’ll make it — but we’ve all found that focusing on 30 minutes makes them productive.  While there are a few longer meetings on the book — client-facing, or our monthly All-Hands meeting, 30 minutes are ample time for the bulk of the other ones.

But what about 15?  If you embrace the concept of tight agendas, prepared, and solutions-focused, we can go faster.  I love it tackling a 30 minute meeting in 15. We look at each other and say “anything else?”  And the answer is “no.”  We just gained back 15 minutes.

Today we had a conference call with an important organization.  It was a well-planned 30-minute Webex call.  Prepped in advance, emails sent before hand to set expectations.  We ran into technical difficulties, so the conversation started 10 minutes late.  In 20 minutes we were done.  On time.  Short, sweet, productive, to the point.  The potential client was thrilled, we were ecstatic, and there were clear next steps.

A couple of years ago, that would have been planned for an hour.  And we would have meandered along — probably for the hour.  This was better all around.  The time beforehand made the dialogue focused; the clear takeaways made us leave energized and clear.

So those hour-long meetings on your calendar?  Try the 15 minute variety — even try standing up.  I just gave you back 45 minutes, and you’ll be even more productive.

You’re welcome.