If you're interested in getting more from meetings than a gaping sinkhole in your schedule — and who isn't? — these tips from how Google handles meetings can help. Of great importance is focusing on data, not politics and grievances.
Photo by ghindo.
Over at BusinessWeek they interviewed Marissa Mayer, Google's vice-president of search products, who is known for running a tight and effective meeting. She shared six great guidelines for holding an effective meeting including one of her long standing rules: "Don't politic, use data."
This idea can and should apply to meetings in organizations in which people feel as though the boss will give the green light to a design created by the person he or she likes the best, showing favoritism for the individual instead of the idea.
Mayer believes this mindset can demoralize employees, so she goes out of her way to make the approval process a science. Google chooses designs on a clearly defined set of metrics and how well they perform against those metrics. Designs are chosen based on merit and evidence, not personal relationships.
Mayer discourages using the phrase "I like" in design meetings, such as "I like the way the screen looks." Instead, she encourages such comments as "The experimentation on the site shows that his design performed 10% better." This works for Google, because it builds a culture driven by customer feedback data, not the internal politics that pervade so many of today's corporations.
It's far more effective to look at what the data says than it is to let a meeting turn into a whine-fest where your whole team is taken away from productive work to hear the less-than-happy members complain. Check out the rest of the article at BusinessWeek to see some more of Mayer's techniques, including holding office hours — a carryover from her days as a professor.
Have a strategy you use in your workplace for increasing the effectiveness of meetings? Let's hear about it in the comments.