What is a meeting for? Getting to a decision.
Effective meetings are only as long as they need to be, May writes. Rather than following Outlook’s quarter-hour despotism, the length of a meeting should be tailored to the decision-making work being done, whether that’s 22 or 2 minutes.
Just as your emails grow succinct (and get read) with proper preparation, your meetings will grow focused with the proper root work. To illustrate this, May borrows from bonsai, the traditional arboreal art:
- “At Toyota, the principle of nemawashi is used to gain consensus on ideas and plans. The term comes from the art of bonsai, and means ‘preparing the roots for planting.’ In other words, socialize your content before the meeting using quick huddles, office fly-bys, one-on-one conversations.”
By doing these small meetings, May says, you can gather a team’s input and build a soft consensus. In this way, you can pay down the transaction cost of conferring before you answer the call of the conference itself–which is, as we can see, a process better suited to the psychology of creativity.
By going for a walk together and talking about the subject at hand well before the meeting gets held, you allow for the best ideas (rather than the loudest talkers) to get heard. Then, once you get to the meeting, the interaction can fit its purpose: to affirm a decision made together.