How to Run a Meeting Like Google As one of the most successful companies in the world, Google is obviously doing something right when it comes to how they manage their time. In general, meetings are known for being a waste of time where complaining occurs, but no real solutions are found. Of course this isn’t always the case, especially at Google. In this article, Google’s Vice-president of search products, Marissa Mayer, outlines how meetings are scheduled and conducted in an effort to eliminate wasted time and maximize results.
On average, Mayer holds around 70 meetings a week. With so much precious time at stake, Mayer has developed a few keys to running a successful meeting. The first being to set a firm agenda. An outline is required beforehand which helps to streamline discussions and keep focused. Next, notes are always made, no matter how insignificant the meeting might be. It is important to Google that everyone is able to look back and see the final decision, but more importantly, the progression of the discussion.
Google is all about being current, and note taking enables the company to keep all employees up to date. Mayer also emphasizes using data in the approval process. This is to ensure that employees know that ideas or designs are chosen based on merit and results, not favoritism. All of these have proven successful for Google in order to reach optimum results during any meetings held. However, I think it is how Google decides to organize their time that makes their meetings successful.
Every week, Mayer designates large amounts of time to meet with people. She organizes these large blocks of time into smaller “slices”. Think: mini meetings. Why schedule a 30 minute meeting when it will only take 10? Mayer is much more productive and efficient with her time because of these micro-meetings. Mayer also suggests the use office hours. She was inspired to do this after her work as a professor at Stanford University.
In this informal approach, not only is efficiency wildly improved (5 or more “meetings” can potentially occur within 30 minutes), but some of Google’s best ideas have come out of office hours. After all, sometimes someone only needs approval to move forward on a project which would not take up anywhere near 30 minutes time (the shortest block of time that her calendar allows). And finally, Google keeps things on time with a giant 4 foot clock that is projected on the wall. This adds pressure to keep on task, but gives every assembly structure.