Steve Jobs' 3-point formula for running effective meetings was brilliant

Steve Jobs was clear about it. He knew how to have effective meetings to keep and which ones to eliminate. And he knew how to carry them out efficiently. It's time we get back to it.

Modern management chronically suffers from too many meetings, and not enough time to get the job done. Jobs knew how to fix this, and his solution is remarkably simple.

Middle managers have been suffering a heavy burden for years. And no, it's not too much work. There are not too many meetings. There are too many meetings AND too much work. There's just not enough time in the day to fit it all in.

Work is what makes the business work, priority number 1, you could say. Meetings should support the work; When they don't, they become a productivity-ruining time suck. However, as Harvard Business Review (among many other publications) has reported, management is increasingly buried in meetings. The reasons are varied, but generally center on management wanting to have more control or believing (mistakenly) that group chatter clarifies and streamlines.

Steve Jobs was clear about it. He knew which meetings to keep and which to eliminate. And he knew how to carry them out efficiently. It's time we get back to it.

Here's the “3 Meeting Rule,” inspired by Jobs' approach to leadership meetings (with a few tweaks inspired by other tech leaders):

Your reasoning? The more people there are in a meeting, the less productive it will be. Too many voices become a sea of ​​noise and it is less likely that anything will be achieved. In fact, Jobs turned down an invitation from President Obama to a tech gathering because, well, the guest list was too long.

Also, when creating your guest list, know exactly what each person's interest or role in the meeting will be. If they can't or won't contribute, eliminate them. If it is an informational meeting, a transcript or recording can be sent afterwards.

The goal is to concentrate. With more than three items on the agenda, you're likely to get lost in a rabbit hole of unrelated topics and side conversations. It is difficult to know what conclusions to draw and what actions to ultimately take when agenda items overflow. Keep it brief and make sure that the three agenda items are clearly related to the main objective of the meeting.

You may think that the essence of a meeting requires a longer period of time, but science tells us that that ends up being a waste of time. Our attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish and our mental stamina is incapable of sustaining a meaningful and analytical debate for long. If you keep meetings short (no more than 30 minutes) and break down key pieces of information into digestible chunks (one- or two-minute segments), you are more likely to leave the meeting with a broad understanding.

In fact, Sheryl Sandberg went a step further: she kept many of her meetings to 10 minutes.

There is also the question of necessity. Is it really necessary to hold a meeting? Ask yourself the following three questions; If the answer is no to all of them, do not schedule one.

  • Does this meeting require input from others, or is it just informational?
  • If I need feedback/feedback, is a meeting a more effective way to get it than a message or email?
  • Would a meeting provide something that an email or message wouldn't (for example, in-the-moment information about constantly evolving issues)?

And finally, as a general note to CEOs just establishing a business cadence, consider creating a minimalist meeting culture. Following the “Rule of 3s,” keep this general guideline in mind: Management should try to schedule no more than one minute of meetings for every three minutes of work. In essence, no more than a quarter of the day should be dedicated to meetings.