“…excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time.” – Elon Musk
Business meetings can be a valuable part of any business owner’s day, but they can also become unproductive if not organized to focus on value. Enter Elon Musk—the tech mogul and serial entrepreneur who revolutionized modern businesses with his unconventional ways of tackling challenges. This blog explores the six rules inspired by the genius behind SpaceX, The Boring Company, and Tesla Motors to help you maximize productivity during business meetings. So, if you want to optimize the power of productive meetings inside and outside the boardroom, read on!
What is the Purpose of Meetings?
Business Meetings are gatherings of two or more people who have convened to achieve a common goal. Meetings provide a valuable forum to share information, communicate changes, coordinate operations, and make decisions.
The Six General Types of Meetings:
Status Update Meetings
Status meetings are used to discuss operational or project updates. Status meetings are usually held with managers, coworkers, or clients. A productive status update meeting can provide your team with answers questions and current performance relative to organizational objectives.
Information Sharing Meetings
Information-sharing meetings are one-way dialogues where a speaker presents to clients, coworkers, or business leaders. These meetings are useful for explaining information to large groups of people. However, they allow for limited interaction or feedback.
Decision-making meetings usually involve company leaders, department heads, and managers responsible for making critical decisions. These meetings take time, depending on the type of decisions being made.
The purpose of a problem-solving meeting is to find a solution to a business problem. Depending on the industry and circumstances, these meetings can include functional managers, technical experts, IT professionals, engineers, financial specialists, lawyers, etc.
Innovation meetings are also known as brainstorming meetings. They can comprise people from multiple disciplines who come together to generate new ideas, solutions, strategies, or approaches to doing business.
Team Building Meetings
Team-building meetings build synergy among employees while helping them improve communication and collaboration. These meetings can involve outings, activities, or team-based competitions.
Elon Musk’s Six Rules for Productive Meetings Explained
The Objective of the Six Rules
- The six rules are designed to improve meeting productivity
- The rules work to minimize time spent in meetings and to improve organizational communication
- The rules aims to empower employees by bypassing organizational norms and allowing employees to make decisions over their duties
Rule# 1: Avoid large meetings
“Please get rid of all large meetings unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.” – Elon Musk
Large meetings are useful for one-way communication from presenter to audience. However, when too many people are involved, the chances of losing focus increase, diminishing the value of the meeting. Additionally, large meetings make it difficult for the audience to ask clarification questions or provide feedback. The result is poor communication, confusion, and a message ineffectively communicated. In contrast, smaller meetings tend to be shorter, more focused, easier to manage, and more constructive.
Rule# 2: If You Are Not Adding Value to a Meeting, Leave
“Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value.” And “it’s not rude to leave. It is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.” – Elon Musk
Musk argues that if someone does not have anything of value to offer a meeting or take away from the meeting, they should not be there. Individuals are more productive at their workspace, completing their regular duties versus sticking around in a meeting that has nothing to do with them. Scaling this rule will have the impact of increasing the productivity of employees and the effectiveness of meetings.
Rule# 3: Don’t Hold Long or Frequent Meetings
“Also, get rid of frequent meetings unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter… Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.” – Elon Musk
Having a meeting means that employees and managers are not doing the jobs that add value to the business. Studies have found that organizations spend around 15% of their time in meetings; 71% of those meetings are unproductive and cost companies $24 billion a year in lost productivity. On the other hand, meetings are an important way to share information, brainstorm ideas, solve problems, and make decisions. Moreover, holding fewer meetings is better than more; the goal should be to have short, focused, high-value meetings.
Rule# 4: Do Not Use Acronyms or Jargon
“Don’t use acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software, or processes… In general, anything that requires an explanation inhibits communication. We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function.” – Elon Musk
The purpose of this rule is to use plain, concise language that removes ambiguity and confusion and ensures everyone understands the message. Plain language helps to communicate complex ideas clearly and directly. Using fewer words and simple language allows the speaker to (mentally) define what the speaker needs to say for the audience to understand. Furthermore, concise language forces the speaker to concentrate on the key points increasing the chances of getting the message across.
Rule# 5: Ignore the Chain of Command
“Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done.” Elon Musk
This rule empowers employees to take ownership of their duties and responsibilities. Hence, staff must avoid wasting time searching for managerial approval. For example, in instances where the employee can deduce through experience and common sense that what they are doing is right, they should take the initiative and complete the task. The guiding principle to help employees to act is; if you can reasonably explain and justify the decisions and actions you took, you are doing the right thing.
Rule# 6: Use Common Sense When Completing Tasks
“…in general, always pick common sense as your guide. If following a company rule is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change.” – Elon Musk
Combined with rule #5, rule #6 was inspired by Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. These rules suggest that when company norms get in the way, use common sense to complete tasks and to stop thinking like a bureaucrat. For instance, if a company rule gets in the way, there is no need to consult with supervisors or hold meetings to discuss tasks, duties, or processes that experienced employees know how to do.
By following the six principles of Elon Musk in business meetings, you can optimize your productivity and make significant progress toward business objectives. In the long term, these guidelines will ensure that your workforce feels empowered and accountable for their work and use time productively. So, put Elon Musk’s-inspired knowledge into practice and start hosting productive meetings today!
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