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The Most Productive Meetings Have Fewer Than 8 People

So this is a fascinating proposition, easier said than done- especially in government. However, it does go to the heart of how we spend our time effectively. It is a challenge worth accepting- meetings which are productive and impactful make the difference between a high performing organisation and a sluggish one. Read Paul Axtel’s full HBR article here. An extract is below.


When well-intended managers are too inclusive with their meeting invites:

  • There is not enough time for everyone to participate in the conversation.

  • Rich back and forth debate is replaced by shallow comments.

  • Information-sharing and catch-ups distract from addressing higher priority issues.

  • People become more guarded and less candid.

  • Tough topics and decisions are not put on the agenda, then are dealt with off-line instead.

As a result, people often lose respect for the meeting which leads to less preparation, participation, and action. It can become a vicious downward cycle.