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100 Mile Rule

The 100-mile rule for meetings/projects is a mental tool for deciding whether to interrupt a person for a problem. In a nutshell, if the issue is big enough that you would call the person back to handle it if the meeting was a hundred miles away, it is OK to interrupt. If not, wait for a break or handle the problem on your own.

One of the biggest personal challenges people face is prioritization. They confuse important with urgent, and flit from problem to problem or project to project. The result is inefficiency. Every time a person is pulled from a meeting or project team, the whole group suffers. They have to spend time bringing the person up to speed. They wait around while the person being interrupted is coordinating. They defer team decisions.

It also hampers the development of the person’s organization. If little problems require management oversight, the team is being poorly run. Its employees are not empowered, so they will be operating nowhere close to their potential.

Of course, ‘rules’ such as the 100-mile rule are not enforceable, and they are going to be arbitrarily used. The point is not discipline, though. The purpose is to get people thinking about the cost of disruption when multiple people are gathered together. The ad hoc team takes priority.

It is also a sign of disrespect to commit to a group and then waste their time.


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