Productivity OR “The One Hour Rule”

I guess you have already tried to invent, integrate, or implement something New for or into something Existing at least once in your life. Provided you struggled and wonder HOW to get things to run within 60 minutes, you will find a 10-part Guide underneath.


The Challenge

To add something New to something Existing is seldom an easy part as we need time for that AND need to find out

  • where we want to go to
  • what we have to agree upon
  • what are the matching points that help us to open that new window

The Opportunity

I got used to apply the “One Hour Rule” at almost any occasion, such as

  • meeting someone first time
  • meeting someone to talk about or agree upon something important or directional (i.e. a client to find out what he wants / is needed; a service provider to find out what he can deliver; a customer to perform an annual appraisal; or a meeting to clarify xyz)
  • meeting anyone for frequent discussions


  1. Framing the right tasks is the only way to create the right solution.
  2. We have a natural high-level attention span of approx. 60 minutes (At School or University, teaching time is therefore 45 minutes)
  3. After 60 minutes we oftentimes talk about something else or details, not only less important for that subject yet worse, if we share things that aren’t meant for that audience, yet.


Prepare, prepare, prepare – but not in solitude.
Your current preparation is the base for future content.
Any Summary is your next Starting Point. Any Minutes are your next Agenda.

Here’s a simple 10-part Guide you can use to prepare any One-Hour-Meeting chronologically.



Hints (based on examples)


Invite active contributors, those whom you really need 

  • Run a provider (pre) selection process before they join you for their company’s presentation (thus, you get a clear picture up-front what you truly need and whether the potential provider can meet your minimum requirements).
  • If you are interested in someone’s presentation without a clear focus or perspective yet, keep the audience small and find out whether or not it could be something for others, too.


Ask everyone for tailored preparation

  • Gather internal expectations, and share them with the external provider.
  • Lay out a format in which you would like to see the data you are interested in (thus, you can avoid long company presentations. A company’s presentation can be attached to any document that will be shared with anyone afterwards).


Write and send an agenda up-front (don’t delegate it)

  • Share who is joining and what their contribution will be, provide timeslots for each topic and hold people accountable for that.
  • Outline the topic(s) to be issued.
  • When sending it out, consider time for preparation (internally at least 2 days ahead of the meeting, externally – ideally about a week before).
  • Be clear that you share the agenda for the sake of everyone’s preparation.
  • If you want someone to get prepared even more, tell them before.


Clarify expectations

  • Make clear what the meeting is there for.
  • Provide a quick intro of the supposed target.
  • Don’t argue any position. Not everything may fit into the discussion, yet, there is nothing wrong or right – occasionally you may have to jot down things you didn’t expect and catch up on them later.


Listen & decide

  • Take logical decision by using technical expertise.
  • If decisions cannot be made immediately, postpone them and take them little later (accessible for everyone).
  • Concise explanations help gathering respect for decisions that are not favorable for one or the other person.


Ban distraction

  • No electronic devices at this time, except the working tools you need for the purposes (any flash, beep, tone … will distract everyone and gives you a hard time to get to the point).
  • Avoid lengthy discussion about fuzzy recent incidents, only solutions are helpful.


Moderate performance

  • If you have eloquent and less eloquent people in your meeting - push or pull them out of their comfort zone.
  • Watch those who get silent or defensive. Pull anyone in for their active CONTRIBUTION - this is what they are there for.


Reassure in case of doubt

  • Make sure you speak the same language.
  • If you sense some misalignment, try to fix it now or later – but fix it.


Wrap up in writing

  • …what you understood was agreed upon and share for comments to be returned in a particular timeframe. This gives everyone the opportunity to confirm, object, or add anything that was or wasn’t issued yet is relevant.
  • If you miss something, question anything – ASK! Forget about I believe, it could be, maybe … get to roots if need be.


Add a list of to-does and timelines at the bottom

  • Keep people accountable for it.
  • It’s probably fine if things get be postponed, yet, only by maintenance you keep the overview


Some Exceptions

Things rarely turn out to work as planned. To increase the likelihood, here are a few more TIPPS

  • consider all participants to either be affected by everything or have them to join or leave staggered
  • avoid overloads – limit the items on an agenda (ideally 2-3 max) or invite people to join at a certain time
  • plan for a buffer (it may depend on a meeting, however, plan for 15 minutes at least, better 30 min)
  • plan for breaks (whether biological one or to be able to re-focus, we all simply NEED it)
  • get someone to take notes or share that responsibility (it’s hard to follow AND take notes at the same time)
  • if cultural requirements speak against a strict agenda, adjust a little more *

* We will talk about it.

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