As to handling meetings specifically, a lot of people will suggest insisting on an agenda, but I have no issue with a timeboxed, agendaless meeting. There do have to be some rules though, to all meetings:
- The rule of two feet. If anyone thinks their time is best spent elsewhere, leave. If you're needed, you'll be called back in.
- The meeting should at least have an expected outcome.
- The timebox is a maximum. If we exceed it, we need to walk away and make another meeting.
- The timebox is NOT a minimum. If the meeting is done in half the time, we don't stay and drag it out.
- If we wander off the topic of the meeting, it is ok for anyone to drag it back on-track. Don't wait for a chairman to do it.
But I think this is fixing a symptom of a deeper problem. You are right to ask what the manager's motivation might be. There are two reasons managers might call way too many meetings and they're very different motivations.
The first is to get information, to remain informed at all times. This, they believe, justifies their existence to their boss. But it's really missing the point.
Their boss doesn't need an immediate answer to any question. They need to avoid having to ask six people, not knowing who has the information they need. They need one point of contact in a team who they can go to and their answers will come back within the hour.
The second is to control, to be the decision maker in every case. This, they believe, justifies their existence to their staff. But, once again, it's missing the point.
Their staff would prefer to learn to make their own decisions.
These managers, if you explain this to them, will say "but ... if I'm not managing upwards and I'm not managing downwards, what is my purpose?"
My answer to that is that they should do the opposite of what they're doing now.
Instead of disseminating the stresses of those above them onto the team, they should absorb it. If your boss needs information and you know who has that information, you should go and disturb that individual for five minutes and get the data your boss needs. Or use project management tools to make sure that information is at hand, when your boss needs it. Don't call a meeting every day so that you have ALL the information in your head at the time you're asked.
Meanwhile, make it clear that people can come to you and use you as a sounding board, when they have a tricky decision to make. Support them when they make poor decisions; it's invariably better than not making a decision at all. If they're not afraid to come to you then they'll generally learn to analyse a situation, decide what they think should be done and the first you hear of a problem is someone saying "Do you think this is the right solution?"
This frees the staff up to do their jobs and you up to do other management things, like maybe having one-to-ones, figuring out what the major costs to productivity are (once your meetings aren't the number one cost), and fixing them.
If your friend can get this message through to his boss plainly then the problem should go away. Obviously, he can't just say "Boss, you're not a very good manager, here's what you should be doing ...". But he can single things like the meetings out and ask, "What problem are you trying to solve there? How can we solve the same problem in a less-costly way?"