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Track Changes

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May 15, 2018
 

What conversations can we have in email? When do we need to transition them into meetings? How can we make meetings more productive, and less of a waste of time? 

Like Startups, Most Meetings Fail: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade chat about the inefficiency of frequent meetings. We discuss what makes a meeting fail within the first few minutes, and provide strategies that can be deployed to make them successful (like defining a leader). We also complain about the neverending email thread, and the disconnect between our daily lives and the design of Google Calendar. Rich shares his best excuses (Ed note: lies) to get out of a meeting! 


3:45 — Paul: “There’s the Two Pizza Rule for Amazon where no team should be bigger than what you can feed with two pizzas.”

4:00 — Paul: “I think there are three good meetings. There is, ‘hi, let’s all get in the room as higher primates and get a sense of each other.’ You need to see and understand the people who are going to be working with you on something. There’s the kickoff. Then there’s the ‘we went away and did some work and we wanted to show you that work and get your discussion within about a half hour.’ Then there’s the standing process focus meeting in which you know what you’re going to do, it’s about a half hour long, and it’s just more efficient to […] find out what the tasks are and walk away.”

6:10 — Rich: “This is free for all our listeners. It’s the opposite of saying ‘this is a waste of time.’ Ready? Here’s the sentence: ‘You don’t really need me for this.’”

6:30 — Paul: “The calendar is this territory that belongs to you.”

10:35 — Paul: “Let’s be honest. Calendering software is terrible. The way that we’ve arranged the weeks so that they’re verticle stacks from top to bottom, that’s now how humans think about things.”

11:00 — Paul: “Time really works like a slithering snake. It goes from left to right.”

11:50 — Paul: “95% of meetings fail within the first six minutes.”

13:37 — Rich: You know what the worst invite is? The preface is this: ‘We all gotta get into a room.’ You get in a room and you realize the email thread was way more productive than us getting in a room.”

15:00 — Paul: “I’ll tell you what I like. Email or meetings? Neither. They’re both terrible.”

18:30 — Paul: “My brain works that way. Business brains don’t work that way. They talk and talk… My brain works in 8.5 by 11 inch paper, top to bottom. I can’t get that in business, and I accept that. I always feel a little bit like a space alien.”

20:40 — Rich: “If there isn’t a clear path to failure, then that meeting is useless.”

20:50 — Paul: “What favour are you doing anyone by hiding the fact that you’re secretly a compulsive lunatic who needs them to do things?”

21:00 — Rich: “The three legs of a stool are ‘what is the thing?’, ‘who’s responsible for the thing?’, and ‘when are you gonna get the thing?’”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

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Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
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