LessMeeting: Master the Dark Art of the Meeting

As any MBA student will tell you, Sun Tzu considered meetings as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible.  He noted that “meetings are like fire; people who do not lay down their iPhones will die by their iPhones.”

Furthermore, the meeting should be conducted swiftly to avoid economic losses: “No long meeting ever profited any country: 100 meetings in 100 days is simply ridiculous.”

OK, ok, you got me.  Sun Tzu wasn’t talking about meetings.  He was talking about war.   But for anyone who played tic-tac-toe with themselves while their boss droned on, or complained to a colleague that they were “meeting’ed out” can attest that these necessary evils can be costly, counter-productive, and bad for morale.

And in these perilous economic times in which firms are looking to boost productivity any way possible, many are ignoring the ripe opportunity in front of them: meetings.

LessMeeting is an agile, user-friendly application that simplifies and streamlines the meeting process.  That means more time for employees to talk with customers and sell products, less time drawing cartoons on the back of a notebook.

LessMeeting takes an intelligent, strategic approach to the concept of meetings.  It views meetings like any other business process – a step-by-step progression of discrete events.  This goes a long way to remediate the major problem with poorly-run meetings: the lack of direction and focus.

The LessMeeting workflow consists of four steps: Plan, Meet, Act, and Adjust.  Each step is complemented by a set of useful tools to streamline the embedded sub-processes.  Let’s take the “Plan” step, for example.  LessMeeting provides a dashboard so users can get an overview of upcoming meetings and to-dos.  Better yet, this dashboard automatically syncs with the user’s Outlook or Google Apps accounts.

The “Meet” step, meanwhile, has mechanisms to keep your garrulous co-workers in place.  For example, as much as you want to hear about Bob in Accounting’s weekend in Reno, LessMeeting provide “Out of Time” Warnings and allows planners to capture time spent on each topic.

But perhaps the greatest challenge in the meeting lifecycle is ensuring that things actually get done.  You’d think people would, you know, act of their to-dos, but they don’t.  So LessMeeting helps speed that along by providing visible “To-Do Progress” via the dashboard.  In other words: “Name and Shame” – if a participant is unwilling or unable to complete their To-Dos in time, everyone’s gonna know.  There’s nothing fun about shame.  And there’s actually no excuse for it, as LessMeeting provides automated follow-ups to attendees, reducing the chances of remotely plausible excuses to 2.4%.

LessMeeting Example

Lastly, LessMeeting allows users to measure and calibrate performance.  No two meetings – and no two groups of participants – are the same.  Some meetings may be more successful with less participants; others with longer chunks of time for participants to speak.  LessMeeting lets you tweak the algorithm, as it were, to find that balance to drive optimal efficiency.

It’s this last piece that is LessMeeting’s greatest value-add, as it goes to the heart of what makes a meeting work: the idea that less can be more, that efficiency and precision should be the planner’s core guiding principles.  It’s an idea that’s at the heart of this fascinating Fast Company article illustrating how Steve Jobs ran meetings – a must-read if there ever was one – but it’s something that can only be executed without automated, structured direction from a tool like LessMeeting.

Humans are frail.  They’re needy.  They’re long-winded.  They’re weak.  LessMeeting‘s tools and functionality elegantly acknowledges and manages these weaknesses, and in turn, helps firms conduct efficient and effective meetings.

After all, to paraphrase Sun Tzu:

“So it is said that if you know your co-workers and know yourself, you can win a hundred meetings without a single loss.”

  • Eulon Ross Taylor

    If I buy a license for myself, will not licensed meeting attendees be able to see the meeting agenda and notes. Also, will the program work over the web?

    1. Stephen Gibson

      Hi Eulon, from the FAQ at the bottom of their pricing page it looks like only those who are licensed meeting attenders can see the agenda and notes. I think the one pack is primarily for solo professionals that want to keep notes for themselves. The main way to use LessMeeting is online through their web interface. They also have iOS mobile apps so you can use it in places you don’t have an internet connection and then sync your information when you do.


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