Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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No More Bad Meetings

This morning I went to Russel’s New York coffee morning. At some point we started chatting about how great the little stop/go button is at Brazilian churrascaria. (For those that haven’t been, when you eat there they keep bringing around meat until you turn it over to red.)

We were discussing the merits of having one for your entire life, so you’d be able to turn things off and on at any moment. Then Russell said how great it would be in a meeting, that way when things got bad you could flip it to red. As we built on the idea a little bit, I think a pretty great thing emerged.

So here’s the idea.

Everyone has a hidden button, maybe it’s under the table, maybe on their chair. Because it’s hidden, each person can vote anonymously (there’s a bit of Wisdom of Crowds at work here). When you hit the button a light turns from red to green (or off to on). When a majority of the lights go red, the meeting is over. It’s that simple.

The beauty of the idea is twofold. One, it would allow the presenter or leader to adjust their strategy based on the real-time feedback of the audience (this would work great for conferences as well). Second, it would put an end to all those terrible meetings where everyone knows it’s bad but it just keeps dragging on forever.

Would it actually work? Got any ways to make it better?

November 11, 2006