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The 10x Meeting - Solving for Too Many Meetings

By Lane Wagner on May 10, 2021

Perhaps you’ve heard of the fabled 10x developer (or 10x engineer) - the one on the team that’s 10x as productive as their average colleague. While many, including myself, doubt the existence of such people, I do think there are meetings that are 10x as productive as the average meeting. My goal in this article is to break down their properties so we can have 10x fewer meetings.

What’s the purpose of a meeting?

Meetings are a communication mechanism. In the context of software development, most “actual work” falls under one of the following tasks.

Meetings are none of these things. Meetings are ways for us to communicate about these things. Meetings serve the same purpose as an email, a call, or a slack channel - they’re just another medium through which we can talk about how to accomplish tasks.

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Why a meeting instead of an email?

There are many companies that make the goal of a 10x meeting more attainable because they set the bar for meeting productivity right in the dirt, we just have to lazily roll over it.

That said, meeting face-to-face has its benefits. According to Meetings.org, only 7% of communication is spoken, with the other 38% being tone, and the last 55% being body language. With those stats in mind, I’m happy to replace an email or slack conversation with a meeting using the following rules of thumb.

What makes a 10x meeting?

Now that we know the goal of a good meeting is to communicate in ways that are more effective than text channels, we can get into the properties of a good meeting. Apart from needing to fall into one of the categories discussed above, there are additional criteria.

Turn down those meetings

smokey bear meme useless meetings

If you’re a scheduler, you can obviously stop scheduling dumb meetings. Remember - the number of meetings you and your coworkers are attending is not a KPI, it’s not a measure of productivity. In fact, freeing up your team’s time to get actual work done does have a positive impact on productivity.

If you have no control over all the meetings you’re invited to, start declining them politely. Be nice, don’t get yourself fired, but if we’re all are more aware of the meeting madness we can mitigate the damage.

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