stormtroopers having a meeting

One of the first things Peter Deng did when he joined Instagram as Head of Product is cancel every recurring meeting.

This pleases me. Recurring meetings are a colossal waste of time and productivity. We've devoted significant virtual "real estate" here at Ridiculously Efficient to posts devoted to cutting meetings down or eliminating them entirely.

Deng didn't permanently eliminate every meeting -- he just wiped the slate clean, so to speak.

Why? Most recurring meetings lose their focus over time, making them ineffective. "Momentum is a really powerful force, and at first it's fed by all of these meetings," he said at First Round's CEO Summit. "But then you have all of these routines and habits that form, and before you know it, you’re just going through the motions, assuming what must come next."

If you're looking to 86 meetings from your team's schedule, consider the following pointers from Deng's experience at Instagram.

  1. Reset the schedule. Wipe all recurring meetings off your team's schedule.
  2. Focus on problems, and add meetings to solve those problems. Meetings shouldn't happen just because; they should happen specifically to solve a problem. "If you aren't careful, you spend more time talking and less time innovating," adds Deng.
  3. Avoid routine. Deng recommends that you always try to find the right temporary solutions to solve real problems. You may set a series of meetings to solve one specific problem, but resist the urge to make that recurring meeting a permanent fixture. Says Deng: "When you solve a problem or create a process, there is always an expiration date."
  4. Focus on "maker" meetings, not "manager" meetings. The former is focused on creating products and services in the moment, while the latter is focused on status updates and discussing the same issues repeatedly.
  5. Review current processes. Any standard process or procedure should be subject to review and optimization. Deng sets monthly and quarterly calendar reminders to assess team efficiency and see where procedures can be scaled back.

Be sure to read the full recap of Deng's talk at First Round. Have you successfully cut out meetings?

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