"In Defence of Meetings" – Really?

“Meetings”: Just the word can be enough to send shivers down your spine. I have a lot of sympathy for Dave Barry’s view of meetings:

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’

Does anyone love meetings? Yet they are a huge part of many people’s working day.

We have all sorts of methodologies for better meetings with a dazzling diversity of advice:

  • Scrum meetings
  • Two pizza meetings
  • Standing meetings
  • Facilitated meetings
  • Lunch meetings

Yet there are so few meetings that we look back on with delight.

We call meetings for all sorts of purposes:

  • Staff meetings
  • Status meetings
  • Review meetings
  • Briefings
  • Training
  • Huddles
  • All-hands meetings

Staff Meetings

I must express a particular dislike of meetings for “touching base”.

Tom Peters says:

Prepare for a meeting/every meeting as if your professional life and legacy depended on it. It does.

He also says:

Meetings are what bosses do. GET OVER IT. Hence it is the bosses job-opportunity to make these meetings no less than paragons of excellence.

Justin Kinkel challenges our attitude to “pointless meetings” and asks us to look at meetings in a different way: “In Defence of Meetings”  on 99u.

Meetings with colleagues are part of the creative process, not a distraction from it. To get things done, we have to work with people, and to love what we do, we have to embrace that. We are all on a journey toward being better. I suck at it. So many of you are further than me, but you aren’t there yet, because there is no “there.”

Justin calls us for us to develop humility in meetings.

the route to finding peace in collaborative communication is so much harder, because it’s about personal subjugation.

“Personal subjugation” now that’s an interesting thought. How many times have you sat in a meeting and been utterly convinced that it would all go so much better if you were in charge. Would it really have been better, or would it just have been better for you? What have we gained by sitting inwardly complaining? Have we made the meeting better by our attitude? Justin goes on to say:

The only thing that you can do to guarantee better meetings and better teams is make yourself into one better participant. That requires humility in every single second, especially the ones that go the slowest.

It’s a challenging article and definitely worth a read.

Today is not that meeting heavy with only 5 hours on the phone. The challenge has been set, let’s see if I can put it into practice.

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