To pose the question, “What do you think about meetings?”, my expectation would be a unanimous answer, something like: “Meetings in the workplace suck.” And I would easily agree: If not well-initiated and facilitated, work meetings waste time. Workdays are too short to tolerate unnecessary meetings.
But Al Pittampalli, founder of The Modern Meeting Company, aims to change work environments mired in a culture of counterproductive meetings with his book Read This Before Our Next Meeting: The Modern Meeting Standard. The action-oriented title is endowed with urgency, a theme throughout the book, which is intended as a handbook. In it, he shares and explains specific ways to improve meetings from the get-go. Such a movement has all work teams readily equipped to hold purposeful meetings—within companies that take meetings for granted. This is Pittampalli’s practical vision.
Read This Before Our Next Meeting shares the same publisher, The Domino Project, founded by Seth Godin, that released Derek Sivers’ first book, Anything You Want. Pittampalli’s first book also shares a lean form, under a hundred pages, and is packed with straightforward, concise writing. Here are some of Pittampalli’s modern-meeting standard principles, turned into high-level infographics, set in a similar font and color stemming from the book’s design.
Infographic 1: Meet to brainstorm
Brainstorming is beholden neither to solo workers nor to visibly outgoing workers. To Pittampalli, meetings are not only prime for generating ideas to solve what needs to get solved, they are also meant for brainstorming. Anyone can participate. In the workplace, Pittampalli places importance on brainstorming as an essential meeting function. Here’s an initial sketch:
A digital iteration of Pittampalli’s ideal meeting culture:
Infographic 2: Meet to make decisions and follow up
Meetings are held to make decisions. On their own, decisions are static. They must be acted on, in order to be executed. Here’s an initial sketch:
A digital iteration of Pittampalli’s stress on not leaving decisions alone, for they instantly get stale:
Infographic 3: Meet then coordinate
To Pittampalli, meetings exist to resolve what’s wrong—as approached through brainstorming—and then followed by a plan to immediately act on the meeting’s decisions.
A digital iteration of the forces of conflict (when it comes to opinions) and coordination (when it comes to decision-making) in meetings—before, during, and afterwards:
In one of the closing passages of Read This Before Our Next Meeting, Pittampalli urges, “We need a culture where people don’t dare show up to a meeting late or, even worse, unprepared, for fear of being shunned. We deserve a culture where the strong spirit of teamwork brings out the best of the group, not the worst of the individual.”
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See: Rest of sketches, parts one and two, plus Infographics inspired by Derek Sivers’ book Anything You Want.