Friday, October 22, 2010

Bored? Call a Meeting

There are just too many people holding meetings because they really have nothing else to do.



Let's be clear: when it's time to make a decision and a number of people get a vote, or you need to share a lot of information with a group at once, then a meeting is a useful thing. There's a way to do it right, of course: have a purpose, have an agenda, get in and do your thing and get out. Don't drag it out, and don't involve people who don't have some good reason for being there, either as a contributor or as someone who needs to use the results of the meeting in their job.

But...
If you're having a meeting just to feel like you're doing something, you're wasting time. You're wasting yours, and other people's, and affecting even more people who may need you to actually be doing something rather than just sitting around.

If you go home at night and say, "Honey, I had a productive day, I was in meetings for 8 hours," then your definition of "productive" and mine are very, very different.

If you have a meeting to get ready for a meeting, then it's possible you're having one meeting too many. Maybe even two too many.

If one topic on your agenda is "We have too many meetings," then you're probably stuck in a Dilbert cartoon.
For many people, meetings have become not only a substitute for work but also a substitute for socializing. They are a way to get together and chat with others on company time. This wouldn't be so bad, except they can be creativity killers. Pulling people out of their creative element for an hour or two (not to mention the "meeting prep" time and the "post-meeting meeting" time that are far too common) keeps them from doing the creative work you hired them to do, and it's not like they can just flip a switch and go from "meeting mode" to "creative mode" right away.

There are lots of good reasons for having a meeting. There are even more bad ones. Be honest with yourself about the reason you're calling a meeting, and if you don't really need it, then don't do it.

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