Have you ever heard of Jeff Bezos’ two pizza rule for meetings?
Although he recently stepped down as CEO of Amazon, there’s no question his leadership style looms large over the organization.
As CEO, he had an interesting rule for meetings and teams…
Every internal team should be small enough that when they meet, the whole group can be fed with just two pizzas.
That shakes out to roughly six to ten people.
Of course, when you need to gather the entire company or a whole department it’s a different story, but it’s a good rule of thumb.
But why is six to ten such a good number for teams and meetings?
More Effective Teams
There’s a variety of reasons why smaller teams can be vastly more effective. With fewer levels of management, teams can make more of their own decisions.
Furthermore, smaller teams tend to foster more interpersonal relationships across the team. Leaders are more likely to know each of their direct reports, their communication styles, and how they are best managed.
The more people you add to a meeting, the more likely it is that someone is going to fade into the crowd. In addition, it gets harder for a leader to develop and cultivate relationships, as well as work to understand what really drives their people.
More Productive Meetings
Let’s face it. Meetings can and often do suck!
But if you limit the number of people in attendance, you’re going to have a much easier time keeping the discussion on track.
In fact, many people are more likely to speak their mind when they don’t have to speak to a crowd.
But the biggest reason why smaller meetings are better is because it’s easier to brainstorm and make decisions. It’s awfully easy to create a “too many cooks” type situation with more than 10 people weighing in on a decision.
How to Have Great Meetings
Of course, the two pizza rule is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to having an effective meeting.
So what else can leaders do to ensure meetings are most productive?
First, you have to have a real reason for meeting.
“We meet every Tuesday” is not a real reason for a meeting!
Before you invite everyone to the meeting, you should have a clear purpose and goals in mind for the meeting.
What do you need to discuss, and more importantly, what do you need to decide?
Oftentimes teams meet to discuss decisions and results, but then leave without identifying any actionable next steps. You end up with meetings where “nothing gets done” and nothing changes as a result of the meeting. Sometimes you leave with more questions than you entered with.
It’s incredibly frustrating and it also wastes everyone’s time!
Running Meetings That Don’t Suck
In the book Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold, he says that your meetings should be hyper focused on your purpose for the meeting.
If someone brings up something irrelevant – push it aside and remind them you can discuss it after the meeting. He argues that the meeting shouldn’t run a MINUTE longer than you needed to achieve your original goal.
On the flip side, sometimes it’s necessary to get everyone in a room and let them know you’re not leaving until a decision is made. Some people need the pressure to force them to make a decision.
Turning a Time Sink into Real Value
It’s easy to think of meetings as a necessary evil. But as a leader, if you run the meeting in the right way, they can easily become one of the most valuable periods in your schedule.
Meetings can boost innovation, inspire your teams, and lead to creative solutions. It’s all about the why and how of each of your meetings!
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