The one thing Steve Jobs says every meeting needs:
People voice three main complaints about meetings:

🚫 We have too many.
🚫 They are a waste of time.
🚫 Nothing ever gets done.

Steve Jobs figured out a way to eliminate two out of the three––and so can you.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, he tells the story of Apple’s struggle to foster a culture of accountability within teams.

Many people felt their success (or failure) was caused by external forces, and especially by other people.
Jobs wanted to instill a sense of personal responsibility.

He didn’t want to hear excuses, especially from other leaders in his organization.

So when it came to meetings, he set up a simple policy.
The goal?

No excuses.
His solution was the Directly Responsible Individual (DRI).

Someone who was responsible for each item on any meeting agenda.

Jobs had two rules:

• An effective meeting at Apple will have an action list.
• Next to each action item will be the DRI.
Why assigning DRIs works so well:

At first, declaring that someone is directly responsible for every task or project may feel like it adds too much bureaucracy or micromanagement to your workflow.

Is it really necessary?

Can’t people just work the way they want to work?
The truth is that this tiny upfront investment yields disproportionate returns.

In fact, appointing a DRI removes many other time-consuming activities from work.

✅ Employees do their best work

✅ On what they should be working on

✅ And nothing else
Rather than sapping productivity, assigning a DRI enables it.

DRIs encourage autonomy.

When you’re the responsible individual, you are not dependent on a manager to tell you what to do.

This makes teams and leaders more self-reliant.
DRIs permit teamwork.

When it’s unclear what should be happening, everyone can trust that the DRI is in the driver’s seat.

If the DRI is quiet, what needs to get done must be getting done.
DRIs enable efficiency.

Because each issue has only a single person worrying about it, the mental resources of your organization can be spread much more widely.
DRIs require specificity.

While assigning someone to be responsible, you must be clear about what they are responsible for.

Specificity on projects, tasks, and action items brings necessary focus to team activities.
When to establish a DRI:

To speed up decision-making and heighten accountability, assign the DRI early.

Two important times:

1. When working on a new or complex problem where the owner is not yet known.

2. At the end of meetings, when leaving with action items or next steps.
Even if the DRI is implied, verbally confirm it out loud.

For example:

“Rachel will put together the product launch plan this week, and I’ll follow up with our PR agency.”

If you’re in a meeting, write the DRI’s name next to every action item in your notes.
Better yet, If your actions are sent to project management software, assign the action to the DRI.

Jobs' framework solved two of the three main complaints about meetings...

But what about when you just have too many?

Try the 10% rule I wrote about here:

That’s all for today.

If you found this thread valuable:

1. Follow me for more threads on business, leadership, and productivity →

2. Check out how my team at Hugo is changing the way people think about meetings ⇢

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So many times I’ve walked out of a meeting and no one knew who was supposed to do what! This solves it. Great thread, Darren!

DRI- It’s a new concept for me! This framework was missing and managers need to read this great thread! Thanks, Darren for sharing.

Rings true for every initiative within a company. Easiest way to make sure shit gets done is to appoint someone accountable for the success of that initiative. Great thread.

The more I learn about Jobs, the more I want I listen to everything he has to say. Nice thread!