Elon Musk’s (genius) torpedo “meeting” recipe
– You haven’t said anything yet, why are you here? Elon Musk, the major shareholder of Tesla, SpaceX, PayPal and Twitter, recently apostrophized one of his employees during a meeting. The billionaire is not used to picking up gloves. We saw it he just fired half of his employees at Twitter, which he just bought for $40 billion, in an email (which he publicly regretted at first because he realized the company needed it).
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But Elon Musk went further a few days ago and sent a real meeting to Tesla employees. Perfectly applicable in France. With the main lesson… to avoid any meeting! We explain why (but if you’re too impatient, you can skip straight to Elon Musk’s principles at the end of this article!)
A study confirms the futility of many meetings
This message from Elon Musk echoes an American study just published by Otta.ai, a company specializing in collaboration tools, about meeting inflammation in companies. Led by Dr. Steven Rogelberg. The conclusion of this professor from the University of North Carolina, who has worked for companies such as Google, Facebook, Cisco, the United Nations and was recently investigated by the American Congress, is radical: a third of meetings would be useless and cause companies to lose millions of euros. Going even further, eliminating this meeting would save €2 million per year for companies with fewer than 100 employees, €10 million for companies with fewer than 500 employees, and €100 million for those with 5,000 or more! Dr. Steven Rogelberg eexplains that “when employees are in meetings they don’t need to participate, they drift away from the discussion or move on to other activities that disturb their neighbors. This can not only reduce the quality of the meeting, but also reduce the productivity of important work. employees.”
For workers surveyed in the US by Otta.ai, meetings account for an average of 18 hours of workers’ workweek. Credit: Otta.ai
Post-Covid meetings flourish
This is even more important as companies find it increasingly difficult to adapt their organizations to new hybrid working methods following the Covid crisis and the rise of teleworking. Faced with the challenge of coordinating teamwork when their employees are geographically dispersed, they responded by increasing the number of… meetings. The Asian tech company tracked how its 10,000 employees performed last year from April 2019 to August 2020. It found that they were 30% more productive when working remotely from home. But this extra effort was futile as their productivity dropped by …20%. In fact, meetings took up all their overtime.
This study seems to confirm it Bartleby’s Law adopted by the newspaper several years ago The Economist, and that means 80% of the time of 80% of the meeting attendees is wasted. Studies in France are rare, but the most recent one (2017) goes in the same direction. A study by OpinionWay of 1,012 employees at companies with 500 or more employees shows that employees spend an average of 4.5 hours per week in meetings, or 3.4 weeks per year. And more than twice as much for executives (6.2 weeks). However, slightly more than half of these meetings (52%) are considered productive. A quarter of the participants admit that their existence is useless. But it’s hard to say no. David Grady, an American expert on time management, explains this passivity with what he calls “Automatic Acceptance Syndrome”. It’s a real “global epidemic,” he claims, “of accepting a meeting request as soon as it appears on our calendar. It’s an involuntary reflex—click—it’s scheduled!”
Six principles of Elon Musk
The solution? Apply Jeff Bezos’ two pizza method. The founder of Amazon established the “two pizza rule” at the launch of his company: the participants of the meeting should be able to eat only two pizzas. LinkedIn and Facebook have long toyed with “co-walking”: meetings while walking around each group’s campus. In France, some companies follow the “standing meeting”, which has the merit of shortening discussions due to fatigue of the kneecaps. But Elon Musk has a more radical solution: say no! On November 25th, he sent a very clear message to Tesla employees, giving them a productivity guide that included six principles:
- Avoid large gatherings, they discourage arguments
- Leave meetings or you will bring nothing. It’s not rude to break up…
- Forget the hierarchical chain to communicate with your colleagues
- Rather than being clever, be clear. no jargon.
- Ditch regular meetings – text or email instead
- Be practical, follow the company’s goals, not the rule
Tesla’s founder isn’t always inspired in his messages to employees. But you can’t blame him for being so open about it.