“Good meetings focused on planning & problem-solving.”

Agreed. In my experience, pro forma (standing meetings for events like planning) go well when there is a rhythmic structure in place, a cadence, i.e., a predictable schedule and pace of events are agreed upon, e.g., we do feature strategy every 6 weeks where we decide on what projects to do next. That is, a meeting is used at a point in time for feature prioritization (we know we are deciding on what to do given everyone has asynchronously pre-read well-shaped ideas). Most meetings are bursty (quick ad hoc syncs between a given small team to clear complex questions). But, most internal communication is best when things are written down and solidified and not dissolved via synchronous chats. This is especially important in remote organizations.

All that said, the best experiments in meeting design I’ve had is when we deeply understand the underlying structure of when meetings should exist. Non-interpersonal pro forma chats are rarely spun up. SME office hours and the cadenced strategy/prioritization/decision-making meetings are really the only two useful ones I’ve experienced at product-led companies. Getting asynchronous right is hard, but pays off big time when that muscle is built up.

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Nice post Ethan, Whilst reading I thought about another post of yours about creativity as well as your more recent writings about AI.

I think it would be interesting to explore how AI can assist in meeting productivity and creativity through structure and automation. For example, if AI can transcribe meetings and free up participants from taking notes, could it enable more wandering minds and spark creativity? Additionally, how could a leader benefit from AI-generated agendas that could help them choose the most productive meeting structure from a range of options? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


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The author Gary North and the late Robert Thoburn, both fundamentalist christians, advocated many of these same techniques in their campaign against the 'left'. Their strategy was to tie up and by extension make bureaucracy look incapable, and thus plant the seeds of their anti-government campaign.

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