When I interview startup founders, I almost always ask them what they do in their free time. More often than not, their response starts with a laugh. Free time? Hahahahaha, silly journalist! Startup founders don’t have free time!
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I know guys, I know. You’re all super busy working 24/7, bringing us the next big thing. But what if you could reduce the time you spend working? What if you could cut your work day down with one simple time saving method?
Motivational speaker Chris McIntyre has developed a system that can cut your meetings down to five minutes. He calls it the “five-minute stand-up” and it’s basically an outline for keeping your employees focused and working independently.
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Keep the longterm goals in mind
Chris doesn’t even want to start hearing about the little problems until his employees tell him how the problem is related to a bigger goal. He believes, basically, that there’s no point in talking about something if it has nothing to do with the big picture.
Besides keeping little nitpicking problems out of your conversations, this method also keeps your employees (and you) constantly focused on your company’s goals. Connecting small issues with the bigger goals means that the goals are always front and center in everyone’s minds.
Come up with code words
In his own business, Chris uses the “stoplight system.” Everyone in his company knows that if something is “red” it’s not going anywhere at the moment, if it’s “yellow” then there may be problems, and if it’s “green” then everything is good to go.
This allows Chris to cut out long explanatory conversations. All he has to do is ask about the color and he has the majority information he needs in one concise word.
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Make sure everyone has all the info
While the stoplight system shortens the conversation, Chris makes it clear that if something is yellow or red, he wants to know why. He emphasizes that he doesn’t have the time to investigate the situation on his own and expects his employees to come to him with the reasons in hand.
Bring the solutions
On that note, Chris emphasizes that it’s essential that his people come to with a list of solutions as well. He believes that the role of the business owner is to keep the big picture in mind, not to put out little day-to-day fires. He encourages his employees to come to him with a list of potential solutions, allowing him to pick the best one during his five-minute stand-ups.
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“Estimated Time of Fix”
Once he knows what the problem is, how it relates to the long term goals, and has picked out a solution, Chris wants to know approximately when the problem will be solved. He calls this the “estimated time of fix” or “ETF.” This sets up a timeline for both him and the employee so that everyone has a clear idea of what the expectations are.
While Chris’ method may or may not fit into the culture of your own startup, it’s well worth considering something similar. How can you cut the fat out of your day to day but still make sure you’re holding onto the meat? Share some of your time-saving methods in the comments below.