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Master the 15-minute meeting

The minute hand at 3, 15 minutesImage via Wikipedia

Want to know something that can make all the difference in a successful day at the office? A must-attend, 15-minute maximum, 8 a.m. meeting in which you surface the day's milestones, needs for assistance, and snafus.

What about when a crisis arises during the day? Call a 15-minute meeting and sort it out.

If you're religious about sticking to the 15-minute-maximum rule, you'll discover you've stumbled across a powerful device that can pretty consistently move the productivity needle in the right direction.

Tom Peters said, "Master the 15-minute meeting! You can change (or at least organize) the world in 15 minutes!"

I don't know about that, but I do know that when people have 15 minutes to get things covered, they get things covered in 15 minutes. There's no room for fat, for pontificating, for unnecessary deference. People learn to state their cases simply and succinctly, which is a valuable, but uncommon, life-skill. Gone are all the small, time-wasting rituals that turn many meetings into endless drones.

The 15-minute-maximum-meeting routine sends powerful messages about action, clarity, brevity and focus. And, oh yes, simplicity, too. Which is another admired but uncommon trait.

Try this:

  • Schedule your first "lightning speed stand-up meeting" in the next 24 hours. And then every 24 hours thereafter.
  • The agenda? (1.) What's happened in the last 24 hours? (2.) What's going on today? (3.) And nothing else. Never go to 16 minutes. Fourteen is just great though. Set the alarm on your Blackberry if it helps. 
  • When you're absent, delegate. Have the meeting whether three people or 14 are in the office. But have the meeting religiously. Make it clear -- as in "What part of 'no' don't you understand?" -- that nobody misses this meeting. Period.
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