No Fail Meetings: Book summary + why we’re reading it

It’s the dread of every office employee across the country – a day full of back-to-back meetings. For most of us that means hour after hour of unproductive conversations, most of which don’t pertain directly to you, your work or department. At the end of the day you go home, eat dinner, tuck the kids into bed and fire up your laptop, working late into the night to complete the work you needed to do that day. Exhausted, you wake up the next morning to the same day full of meetings and the same evening full of work. It’s like Groundhog Day over and over again! (cue “I Got You Babe”)

At Fervor, we try to avoid a vicious cycle of too many meetings and not enough time to get our work done. So we turned to Michael Hyatt and his book, No Fail Meetings, for help clearing our overcrowded calendars and reclaiming office productivity.

In his book, Hyatt references Clarizen, a project management company, and a survey they conducted. According to the survey, 46% of respondents would rather stand in line at the DMV or get a root canal than attend a status meeting. Whoa. And it seems there’s no relief in sight. American companies are wasting billions of dollars each year on bad meetings. So how do we reclaim time, and change the way we communicate with our teams?

Hyatt provides five simple (yet important!) steps to planning successful meetings:

  1. Decide – Is a meeting necessary? If so, who should be involved, what should the format be?
  2. Schedule – When is the right time of day for the meeting?
  3. Prepare – Agendas. Enough said.
  4. Meet – Stay on topic, guard against distractions, ask good questions and “facilitate transformative conflict”.
  5. Follow Up – Get feedback, review notes and make sure follow-up tasks get done.

As part of our internal Fervor Lunch & Learn series, our team read No Fail Meetings and discussed it book-club style. We shared ideas and suggestions that impacted us the most, and how they relate to our current meeting structures. It was no surprise our entire team was excited about the prospect of scheduling, planning for and executing meetings that would move everyone forward while still allowing time to finish the tasks only they can do.

We also examined our current meeting schedule. Before the meeting was over, we’d removed five recurring weekly meetings that involved more than half our team!

Most importantly, we established some ground rules for future meetings within our organization:

  • 15 minute stand-up meetings will be utilized whenever possible.
  • When face-to-face isn’t necessary, communication via Slack is the go-to.
  • All meetings longer than 15 minutes will have an agenda (we’re using a version of the agenda shared in No Fail Meetings).
  • Meetings will be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance to allow the team time to prepare.
  • We blocked off two “meeting free” afternoons each week for uninterrupted work time.
  • Phones and laptops are not allowed in meetings. If laptops are needed to share files, or collaborate on a project, email and Slack will remain closed.

No Fail Meetings was the perfect read for our team. It forced us to take a good look at our current procedures and make changes that will help us increase productivity for both our internal team as well as our clients. Most importantly, it supports us in maintaining a collaborative culture that is devoid of silos and supports our efforts to roll up our sleeves and get the job done.

 

References:

“Clarizen Survey: Workers Consider Status Meetings a Productivity-Killing Waste of Time,” Clarizen, 6 February 2015, http://www.clarizen.com/about-us/press-releases/item/clarizen-survey-workers-consider-status-meetings-a-productivity-killing-waste -of-time.html.

Hyatt, Michael, No Fail Meetings. Franklin: Michael Hyatt & Company, 2018. Print.