No blog like this would be complete without some musing about how bad meetings suck, so let’s have at it.
Let’s go back a hundred years ago to my time in MBA school at the wonderful Duquesne University pursuing my concentration in Human Resource Management.
One of the courses was a management course taught by a gentleman named Thomas J. Murrin, who was just the sort of adjunct instructor an MBA student truly gets their money’s worth from.
The late Mr. Murrin, having served as an executive at Westinghouse, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and on numerous corporate boards of directors, had not only DONE what business schools teach, but had also helped shape the current environment of business over a 40+ year career in executive leadership.
The way Mr. Murrin’s course at Duquesne University worked, the entire class was broken up into groups of 6 or 7. Each week one of those groups would present on an assigned topic. The presentation would run for 20 minutes.
I was part of a group that presented on the topic of Board Governance – a topic near and dear to Mr. Murrin’s heart.
He gushed at my group’s explanation of the difference between “board governance” and “bored governance.”
He Told Everyone He Loved Our Presentation But Gave It The Worst Grade Of The Class!
It got a B+ while every other presentation that semester got an A or an A-.
Everybody knew this, because at the beginning of each class, he announced the previous group’s grade to the entire class.
Why a B+ you may ask?
Mr. Murrin wanted 20-minute presentations.
Not 19 minutes, not 21 minutes.
Those A- presentations had run 19 or 21 minutes.
Our Board Governance presentation ran 27 minutes – and got a B+ for it.
Hey, I Was FURIOUS.
Was this just?
Was this fair?
Was Mr. Murrin a power-mad tyrant with his obsession over the 20-minute thing?
Was the entire class entitled to know my grade?
Was this a violation of my confidentiality?
I thought of dropping the class in protest.
I even spoke with the dean of the business school about it.
But then I realized Mr. Murrin was giving me solid gold that would pay dividends for the rest of my life.
As I said, he literally had helped shape the entire modern environment of business – so he knew what he was doing.
He was teaching me three incredibly important lessons that have served me well as an entrepreneur, as well as helped my clients unearth the groundhogs and get much more done in less time while making their teams so much more eager to render exceptional service to customers:
- When you call people to a meeting, you are asking for permission to take up their time. They grant it by showing up and playing full-tilt once they arrive.
- People in the meeting know exactly how much time they’ve granted you – the moment you take up more time, you’re intruding into their time. It’s impolite and disrespectful. At Minute 61 of a one-hour meeting, your voice fades to a babble and all they hear is the ticking of their watch.
- Once you disrespect someone by disregarding their time, they’ll gleefully shoot the messenger and discount the value of the message.
With this in mind,
That Fury Became A Passion For Effective Meeting Management
Years later, I mastered the art of leveraging Mr. Murrin’s lesson and applied it to online marketing, especially the concept of permission-based marketing.
When someone permits you to enter their space and take their time, use it wisely.
And don’t tolerate excessive meetings and jibber-jabber used to create the appearance of activity that just puts off actual action.
The more time you make people dawdle around in meetings that run overtime, the more you tax their energy and passion that could – should – be leveraged toward providing exceptional service to your customers.
While we’re getting these meetings done on time, let’s make it time well spent.