Google Ventures uses an unconventional method to keep meetings and other exercises productive: A $US25 timer Jake Knapp, a design partner at Google Ventures, first saw in his son’s first grade classroom.
“Oh, my God, this changes everything,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek’s Belinda Lanks what he remembered thinking after seeing the timer. “I figured what worked for small children would probably work well for CEOs, too.”
The time timer, called the “Magic Clock” in his son’s school, clearly shows how many minutes remain once it’s set.
Knapp first started using the timer during a five-day design bootcamp that all startups funded by Google Ventures get to participate in. He would set 20- or 30-minute limits on various activities only to find it made groups take their time more seriously. It also encouraged everyone to participate, because it was more obvious when someone was taking up time with long-winded ideas or if the meeting was about to end before someone spoke up.
Although Knapp admits cutting people off with a loud beep can be awkward and not every meeting will benefit from the use of a giant timer, it can make meetings much more efficient and productive with the right group.
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