Steal this energetic way to shorten meetings

For the Best Workplaces of 2022, we looked at companies that have implemented simple but important policies to solve a problem or improve their culture. This story is one of those case studies.

What do you do when someone starts to trot in a meeting, hopelessly – painfully – lost on some tangent? Addigy, a Miami-based software company that specializes in managing Apple devices, has come up with a way to get the speakers back on track: by throwing a yellow flag.

Digressions and off-topic discussions at meetings became a pandemic in itself at Addigy last year. It came at the expense of productivity. It was then that chief people officer Lynn Erger, who was working with a consultant to formalize better meeting habits, stumbled upon the yellow flag idea and decided to empower all employees as agenda umpires. She ordered some tissue-sized flags from Amazon and handed them out the next morning, at the start of a six-person planning meeting in a small conference room.

“Everyone looked around and asked, ‘Are we really doing this?’ The hesitation didn’t last long, however, as at the second meeting, staff members waved the yellow flags with the confidence of NFL referees.

Today, the flag policy is a popular part of Addigy’s culture. When someone starts to stray from the subject, the whole room will reach for their flags. “The look on the speaker’s face is priceless,” says Erger. “They’re usually laughing and pushing extra hard to keep up with class.”

The policy also works in virtual meetings: participants type “yellow flag” in Zoom chat or wave their flag in front of their camera when someone breaks the agenda. According to the feedback Worr has received, employees do not feel muzzled by the system. When a speaker pulls a flag, she says, they often write down their tangential idea and bring it up later. It helps that the policies are applied fairly: “It doesn’t matter if you’re a vice president or a support engineer,” says Erger. “We are all responsible for sticking to the agenda.”

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From the May/June 2022 issue of magazine

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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