Monday, May 9, 2011

Lessons from Osama bin Laden, Part 1

On May 1, an elite military special operations unit stealthfully traveled from Afghanistan into Pakistan and landed in a compound where Al-Qaida terrorism chief Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding.   Osama was there and was killed during the raid on his compound.  The political ramifications, conjecture, and facts will no doubt be discussed for years.

The duration of time that the soldiers were in the compound (from when they landed to when they departed) was only forty minutes.  Forty minutes!  How long was your last staff meeting?

Many large organizations with a multi-use conference room schedule the room in one-hour blocks.  In my experience, I have found that most meetings tend to stretch out to the time allotted.  If you plan for a two hours for a meeting, there is a great likelihood it will last that long.

In the book Quiet Leadership author David Rock challenges readers to decrease the meeting time to one-fourth of the regular allotted time.  For example, an hour meeting would be conducted in 15 minutes.  How could this be possible?  I believe that the following tips will help you decrease meeting times.

  1. Identify, in writing, the purpose for the meeting.
  2. Create an agenda based on the purpose.
  3. Assign responsibilities for each agenda item.
  4. Create the expectation that any items or files to be discussed should be reviewed prior to the meeting.  This, of course, means that as the meeting organizer you should have the materials ready and available, either via e-mail or shared network space.
  5. At the start of the meeting, remind participants to remain focused on the agenda items.
  6. Create a "parking lot" for items not on the agenda.  A parking lot allows for items to be mentioned but saved for later.
  7. Thank participants for remaining focused.

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