Stop Wasting Valuable Time
Top management's time is typically one of an organization's scarcest resources. It is vital to manage meetings to get things done with maximum output and minimal time loss. Seven techniques can help achieve this. First, separate operations from strategy. Operational matters require detailed discussion and analysis, whereas strategy requires more of a big-picture, forward-looking approach. Not only are the two mindsets different, they mix poorly together. Second, focus meetings on decisions and not discussion. To this end, it might be best to follow the lead of Intel Corp.'s senior management team, which makes it standard practice to begin every meeting with variations of the following statement: "The purpose of this meeting is to inform you about X, to discuss Y and to decide on Z."

Third, prioritize high-value items. Be prepared to assign someone to make the calls if there is disagreement regarding which items are of highest value. Fourth, learn to move items off the agenda. Some projects do not need to be agenda items, especially if there are already processes in place to solve common project management issues (e.g., assigning timetables, accountability, etc.). Fifth, management should demand carefully vetted choices from their support teams for each major decision. Nothing slows the decision process more than spending time on options that have no chance of being implemented. Sixth, make decisions stick. The weakest managers waste countless hours reviewing and revisiting decisions that should have been made only once. To this end, make a point of summarizing the decisions made at a meeting, along with commitments and to-do's for follow-up. Finally, record these in a decision log and review the follow-up at the next meeting.
Bain & Company (06/19/14) Mankins, Michael; Davis-Peccoud, Jenny
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