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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

Time: Life’s Great Equalizer & The Great Suck of Meetings

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

If I were to write a list of the the top 5 things in life I value, TIME would be on that list.

Time does not care if you have 5 million dollars in the bank, or $50. Time doesn’t see your race, gender or ethnicity, introverted or extroverted.

Few things in business are “visibly agnostic” to what shapes opinions every day. Everybody has a fixed amount of time

  • 24 hours in a day

  • 168 hours in a week. Actually, I believe most people need 7-8 hours of sleep and this “off the table”, so let’s call it 112 hours a week.

If you’re like me……you start going down to minutes and counting up lost ROI of a minute. Worth noting:

In DISC profile personality measurement speak, I’m 100% “D” (Dominance factor). I’ve seen many “high D’s” on the profile score, but 100% D is not common. This means that TIME is my most significant measuring stick. It screams throughout this blog and in my life, people that don’t understand this sometimes struggle to connect, and I’ve written about it multiple times.

People are strange creatures, the 100% D’s are certainly tops of the list. If you don’t have a “User’s manual” on your team, I would consider this job #1.

Time obsessed people tend to think that the “non-obsessed” are too cavalier with other people’s time. That really is not fair, but is often the case.

One of the giant TIME SUCKS for people in the business world? MEETINGS.

Meetings have a negative, well deserved connotation. I’ve seen more than my share of finger pointing, tangents, and also some hearty belly laughs to understand how quick things can get off topic. But if I could boil it all down to a simple “bucket” of time wasters, it’s this:

The MISSING, magical, ONE PAGE DOCUMENT that keeps people focused. Not an agenda, which often comes to mind. I think of it as an ACTION Document.

Key Elements For Action Document

  • What is the problem?

  • Historical Context? (less than 3 lines, history is rarely critical but usually enlightening). These 2 bullets should consume no more than 25% of page, MAX.

  • How do we propose fixing it?

  • How long will it take? (Key milestones, achieved by WHO, what additional resources are needed?). Some this the “project plan”

  • What’s the cost, but more importantly the ROI?

  • How do we measure the solution?

There is magic in 1 page. It’s OLD SCHOOL, it’s painfully simple, and it works. Just like the cocktail napkin, or the Flash Card or multi-colored pen, simplicity wins.

Why 1 page? When there is no constraint on problem/solution thinking, what you will get is endless communication that strays from the topic at hand.

The key is to force people to be focused & prepared with the Action document BEFORE the meeting to work through a position. This will not only save time; it will DEVELOP PEOPLE in the process.

Too often people are hesitant to work through an issue from A to Z and are more comfortable doing it in the meeting setting. Every time I’ve seen this happen, I see lost productivity and less than ideal problem solving.

Lots of reasons drive people’s hesitancy to show up with the ACTION document. Fear, lack of experience with the issue, etc. Whatever the reason, if you force people to team up and problem solve in small groups, you will knock down all the barriers people create for themselves.

Meetings can be great opportunities to showcase talent, but they need to be structured against problem/solution/ROI, not a struggle to define the problem, as most meetings are.

Stick to the Action document and the meeting will be comprehensive to solutions and the future.

This gives the meeting leader, (the owner of the Action document) the greatest opportunity to shine and develop.

That should always be tops on the leader’s agenda.

From Lessons of Moneyball……”What’s the problem?”…..

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