The Bathroom Boardroom

This is a true story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Really, I’m not kidding. This is true.

I once worked for a CEO who would, from time to time, hold executive briefings, in the company bathroom, while he was, let’s say, taking care of business. While in a stall he would ask questions and I would be expected to answer his queries while standing outside of the stall. In the meantime, colleagues would come and go, and all I could do is to give them an embarrassed look and shrug my shoulders. The colleagues usually did their business fast hoping their debrief was not next.

I’m not kidding.

If there was anything to be learned from this situation it’s that a business meeting can happen anywhere. Although I can’t encourage an entrepreneur or exec to make the bathroom a boardroom, there have been times that I would have rather met in the bathroom than sit through some of the worthless, time consuming boardroom meetings that I’ve endured.

A great business meeting can happen anywhere. One famous industrialist, I believe it was Rockefeller, was reported to have executive meetings with his team while walking to his factory. I’ve been a part of some great meetings where no attendee ever sat. The “standing” meeting is very effective and efficient. The agenda I like is to get everyone necessary into a room and then go around the room asking the same question of each person:

  1. What are your priorities?
  2. What do you need to accomplish your priorities?
  3. Who here can help you get there?
  4. Next

That’s it. Simple. Don’t allow anyone to get carried away with words in these meetings. The key to making this as effective as possible is clarity and brevity. Short, sweet and concise.

I sometimes wonder how many millions of productivity hours and at what cost that these long-winded worthless meetings add up to. Sometimes understanding the power and value of a concise team meeting can be the difference in success and failure of a business. There is unmeasurable value in making sure that everyone on the team is aligned and focused on the number one thing that needs to get accomplished to move the company’s goals and their own goals forward, and that is not achieved with by wasting peoples time.

Accountability is essential and the best way to ensure accountability is through absolute clarity of goals; personal commitment to those goals; and then through group accountability gatherings. Heck let your competition waste their time sitting in pointless meetings, while you and your team get a two hour jump on them all. This is simply one of those neat little secrets that you sometimes only learn by trying. So, flush the stereotypical meeting away and get creative and save everyone some time while achieving your goals.

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