Here's why this CEO sets up just 6 chairs for every meeting

Lewis Cirne

New Relic

Lewis Cirne, CEO of New Relic.

Have you ever felt intimidated or self-conscious during a large company meeting? So intimidated that it prevents you from speaking up or contributing to the discussion?

Most of us have been there, which means there are a lot of wasted ideas that have never been put forth.

Lew Cirne, CEO of New Relic, a software analytics company based in San Francisco, recognizes the validity of large-meeting-anxiety and has developed a system to combat it.
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"I have a table in my office," he told Adam Bryant of The New York Times in a recent interview. "It has six chairs around it. And if the meeting is too big for that table, I won't go to it unless it's a board meeting."

The smaller, more intimate space provides a level of comfort that large meetings lack.

"When the CEO's really active in a big meeting, people feel less willing to volunteer contributions, and that's not good," he told Bryant. "I prefer small meetings. Everyone can contribute, and you're more focused on problem-solving."
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Cirne's meeting philosophy not only creates a more comfortable environment that ensures the participation of everyone, but the six-person table also creates a dynamic space that can narrow focus and curb lethargy.

Cirne explained that part of his decision to implement this model came from "recognizing that I get de-energized and often lose focus and excitement when I'm in a large meeting."The number six sets the right tone for Cirne: "Anything more than six and it becomes more about just receiving information. You're not part of the dialogue."
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Click here to read the full New York Times interview.

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