Startup Best Practices 14 - Slash and Burn Your Calendar

When startups achieve hyper-growth, many of the key internal processes begin to fail under the strain of a newer, larger organization. So they must be reinvented. One of the most important internal processes, but least considered, is scheduling meetings.

As Anne Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Most of us spend our days in meetings. Meetings, like a snowball rolling down a mountain, develop ever greater inertia, roll down a path of their own - different from their initial purpose - and ensnare increasing numbers people as a business grows.

To counter this effect, James Reinhart and the team at ThredUp, a clothing marketplace metamorphosing through hypergrowth, slashed and burned their calendars. On a chosen weekend, everyone at ThredUp deleted every standing and recurring meeting in their agendas.

During the next few days, the team questioned what meetings should exist, who ought to attend them, and what their agendas and goals should be. In addition, the team pushed to cut meeting times in half from 50 to 25 minutes. The impact to the company has been dramatic. Fewer, shorter, more productive meetings.

After all, if a 100 person startup eliminates one 1 hour standing meeting each week from every employee’s calendar, they will have unlocked more than an extra manyear of work to allocate - a new “free” employee.

Slashing and burning calendars periodically challenges a company to allocate its most scarce resource, employees’ time, more effectively. By torching all the scheduling chaff that accumulates over time, startups can start fresh and cultivate a schedule to maximize company and employee performance (and happiness).

Published 2015-06-24 in best-practices 


I am partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

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