2011-08-15

The "One Page Meeting" Proposal

Humbly submitted...

I call it the "One Page Meeting" proposal.

1) Every meeting deserves a one page agenda
2) The agenda will not exceed one page
3) Items not on the page will not be discussed
4) No other materials are permitted!!!
5) One attendee must update and distribute an updated one page after the meeting

#4 is the key. No 10-page issue list. No 20-page project plan. No 30-page PowerPoint. Fit it on one page, or you can't discuss it.

A meeting is any collection of 3 or more employees who review past actions (where are we?) and assign future actions (where do we need to be?) in support of a goal. Don't confuse it with training, presentation or one-on-one with your manager. It's not a brainstorming or solution-finding session, either. Those are great as long as the time blocked on your calendar clearly indicates that as the purpose.

Look, the other things are needed. 20-page project plans with associated Gantt charts don't just up and create themselves. But those still usually have one author with major input from, what, one other person?

Think about the last time you had to attend a 20-page project plan review:
- Would your part have fit neatly on one page?
- Did you have to sit through the other 19 pages?
- Was your work any better for that experience?
- Did you get any meaningful takeaways from that meeting?

Now think about the last 30-page PowerPoint viewing. Isn't that actually what we call a presentation, meaning you're just there to absorb some information, not to take away action items?

Will some smart guy say "well, I'll just do mine in 6-pt Helvetica with no margins to fit on one page." Challenge accepted! I'd rather attend a meeting that aspires to adhere to a ruleset, even if it's tongue-in-cheek!

Maybe meetings are better in your company. I wager that they aren't.

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