How we cut our number of meetings in half—and got more done

p 1 how we cut our number of meetings in half and got more done

We’ve heard it numerous instances through the pandemic: “I’m a Zoom-zombie.” Nowadays—with no restrict on convention room availability—it’s far too straightforward to pop into a gathering with the clicking of a calendar invite, squished in between different 15-minute blocks of calls. We felt this, too. 

When the pandemic hit final spring, we have been inundated with WFH guides, suggestions, and methods for distant collaboration and communication. Whereas most of these hacks hinged on transporting the bodily workplace on-line, they skated over the chance to re-think working tradition. 

In April 2020, the common Ministry of Provide group member had 31.5 meetings per week. One yr later, we cut that number nearly in half to 17.6.

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Our vary of operations spans verticals: advertising, provide chain, pictures, product growth, and more. We’re a combined bag of makers and managers—and we have been obsessive about productiveness and environment friendly collaboration lengthy earlier than the pandemic, continuously experimenting with and evolving our work kinds to develop and innovate. 

Over the previous decade, we’ve been hacking our working tradition and we’ve realized a number of issues—from ideas as high-level as understanding differing kinds of thinkers, to hacks as brass-tacks as calendar group. 

Embrace the maker and supervisor working type  

When my cofounder Aman and I first based Ministry of Supplyv 10 years in the past, we wanted to bridge the hole between our skilled backgrounds—mine in analysis and product growth, his in administration consulting. Each engineers by background, we drew inspiration from Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

Ideally, makers work in uninterrupted, half-day lengthy stretches the place they’ll sink their tooth into writing, code, or a photoshoot. In the meantime, managers thrive in brief, half-hour bursts of calls and emails. 

Neither is best, smarter, or more efficient—simply completely different—and it’s a spectrum, in the end. Skilled companies firms will lean more supervisor, whereas expertise firms could lean more maker—however for us, our world max is someplace between. At Ministry of Provide, we must prioritize each approaches to co-exist. 

Implement Scrum: Twice the work in half the time

Generally discovered in software program product firms, the Scrum methodology is a framework that prioritizes work primarily based on enterprise affect and distributes it in an asynchronous, agile manner. Organized into sprints, you’re employed via a prioritized backlog of initiatives with a clearly outlined completion date, a dash kick-off, a handful of each day “standups,” a venture evaluate, and time for reflection.

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Associated: Ministry of Provide named a Quick Firm most progressive model


Whereas this actually isn’t a brand new idea, it hasn’t actually seen widespread adoption outdoors of the tech world, due, in half, to the dearth of understanding round maker & supervisor schedules. We initially carried out this strategy for our product growth group, however we realized it might have a fair greater affect if we went all in. It’s a strong approach to distribute venture possession and scale back one-on-one tactical administration, which ought to as an alternative concentrate on teaching and mentorship.

Each day standups, in explicit, helped ease the transition to distant work. Hearkening again to our days operating monitor, we’ve all the time believed in beginning the day as a group. In our standups, we share the only, most impactful factor that we’re going to get done that day. 

Alternate weeks for each side of the mind

We experimented with back-to-back two-week sprints, however we discovered it unsustainable to remain solely in maker mode or supervisor mode without end. Now, we alternate weeks for optimum productiveness. Throughout maker week, we’re in a “scrum dash” and don’t have any meetings moreover the 15-minute morning standup. Throughout supervisor weeks, we pack in KPI opinions, mentorship check-ins, and exterior meetings. 

The intentionality of this strategy pushes us to have fewer pointless inner meetings and reduces switching costs. We discovered that this alternation created a pure wave of vitality—there’s a quiet depth to maker weeks and a daring vitality surrounding supervisor weeks. The oscillation creates a way of change that fuels either side of the mind.

Use working periods to work

Many duties require room to breathe, and our “Getting-to-Zero Periods” facilitate simply that. The periods are two to 3 hours, attended by two to 3 teammates. The requirement? One clear consequence for the assembly—no to-do lists or e-mail follow-ups. The work must get done inside the timeframe of the assembly. 

In a distant world, we’ve taken these periods to Slack by opening up non permanent, devoted channels. For brainstorming, this strategy helps unlock even more concepts, with a number of threaded discussions occurring without delay versus a bodily assembly the place one particular person is talking. 

We’ve additionally experimented with asynchronous working periods in the G-Suite, the place you possibly can see what your colleagues are engaged on in real-time, borrow content material, construct on their concepts, and create a more cohesive doc or presentation. Gone are the times of “Who owns the grasp file?”

Arrange a meeting-free day

Since 2014, we’ve had a work-from-wherever firm coverage on Wednesday mornings. When we began implementing the maker & supervisor scheduling, we prolonged this coverage for your entire day—no recurring check-ins or standing meetings allowed. 

When we do have meetings, we’re video-on for all of them and encourage off-screen note-taking to withstand the urge to flip tabs. It’s a matter of respect, but it surely additionally retains meetings a lot shorter. 

Taking it from intention to motion

Groups can work collectively to create an infrastructure that helps these guardrails, like company-wide calendar blocks or go-to Slack statuses that staff can use to speak once they’re in maker mode. 

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That mentioned, there must be so much of buy-in from each degree for this to truly work. There’s a pure inclination to let meetings creep in in addition to monumental exterior strain to work in a sure manner. You must commit teamwide—particularly management, who would be the largest offender as their function doubtless defaults to meetings. My co-founder, a self-professed “90% supervisor, 10% maker,” is the most important champion of defending the maker and supervisor weeks—just because the outcomes are clear. 

Our largest studying via this was realizing we had the chance to rebuild our working tradition. As a substitute of attempting to duplicate workplace tradition (and the accompanying multitude of convention rooms) on-line, we view it as an opportunity to be extraordinarily intentional about embracing a hybrid workstyle—one that can succeed not simply through the pandemic, but in addition in the years to return. 


Gihan Amarasiriwardena is the cofounder and president of Ministry of Supply, an workplace attire startup that makes high efficiency enterprise put on.