David Hieatt recently drafted a few internal principles he uses to create a culture of “Deep Work” at his company, Hiut Denim. The idea of Deep Work was famously coined by Cal Newport. Number one on David’s list is: “Protect you from meetings.”
As he framed it to his team:
“Most meetings are the result of lazy thinking. The problem is not even understood. So, no solution can be resolved. No clear action point is undertaken. So mostly it is an exercise of who has the nicest biscuits. If we call a meeting, it will be for a good reason.”
It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of meeting for meeting-sake, with a default Google calendar meeting length of 60 minutes.
If we’re not careful, our day starts to look like this:
Last year I had a chance to create a series of cartoons for DBS Bank, Southeast Asia’s biggest bank. In working with them, I learned that they identified dysfunctional meetings as one of the main innovation blockers in their culture.
Along with consulting firm Innosight, DBS developed a series of what they called BEANs (Behavior Enablers, Artifacts, and Nudges) to help shift their office culture in a variety of ways, including how they do meetings. In a recent HBR article, Innosight wrote how they worked to change the meeting culture at DBS:
“Meetings, leadership concluded, were suppressing diverse voices and reinforcing the status quo. To change that, DBS introduced a BEAN it called MOJO…
“MOJO promotes efficient efficient, effective, open, and collaborative meetings. The MO is the meeting owner, who’s responsible for ensuring that the meeting has a clear agenda, that it starts and ends on time, and that all attendees are given an equal say. The JO – or joyful observer – is assigned to help the meeting run crisply and to encourage broad participation. The JO, for example, has the authority to call a “phone jenga” that requires all attendees to put their phones in a pile on the table. Perhaps most important, at the meeting’s end, the JO holds the MO accountable.”
I like the idea of introducing MOJO to meetings. If a meeting is worth having, it is worth structuring them to make them worth everyone’s time.
Here are a few other related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: