How many times have you set up or been asked to attend a meeting with someone just to prep for another meeting? If you know what I’m talking about that means you’ve fallen prey to the curse of the pre-meeting.
This tendency is so prevalent that there’s even a great Japanese term for it called “Nemawashi.” People believe that in order to ensure a main meeting goes smoothly they must first have a series of smaller meetings with each individual participant or sub-group. Therefore, for every meeting that someone believes needs to happen there is an exponential growth in the overall number of meetings that actually take place in support of the one main meeting. Ridiculous.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be prepared and you shouldn’t take the time to be fully ready if you do have to have a meeting. I’m saying you should really understand and question if you truly have to have a meeting and if you do need to have one be willing to use it to its fullest ability. If you need to have a conversation or make a decision on a topic have it in one meeting, with everyone and put the topic to rest in that one meeting.
The better question may be to ask how to avoid all meetings whatsoever. Check out this quick book by Al Pittampalli and hopefully it’ll get you started on creating a meeting-less culture.
I got the inspiration to this post when talking with a friend and me saying “my dad was a truck driver, he never had a pre-meeting and he was able to get his work done just fine.” Sure, you may think that this doesn’t relate to what you do because you do something different than drive a truck. However, next time you talk to Mark Zuckerberg ask him how many pre-meetings he had when he created Facebook.