NPR had a segment yesterday by Yuki Noguchi on “And So We Meet, Again: Why The Workday Is So Filled With Meetings “. I was expecting a typical rant against the stupidity of meetings, but one word made all the difference: “bad ” meetings.
Here are a few quotes from the written version:
Stockton himself said last year that Mattel lacked an innovative culture and blamed it in part on something specific: bad meetings …
Experts say poorly run meetings grind away at employee engagement and make companies less reactive by bogging decisions down in human red tape.
Most workers (and journalists) would just say “blamed it on meetings” or “meetings grind away …” without the modifier. That “bad/poorly run” modifier divides the tool usage into “good” and “bad” usage, acknowledges that “good” can exist, and reframes the problem as how to take advantage of the good while ditching the bad.
This approach addresses the “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” argument that I have whenever I hear a communication/collaboration channel being universally banned or hamstringed to address intermittent failures. There are good and bad meetings, good and bad interruptions, good and bad emails , good and bad Powerpoint presentations. Banning email, meeting-free Fridays, or limiting Powerpoint presentations to 5 slides take a too-equal swipe across both the good and bad of their type. And the bad has a way of oozing to other allowed channels or days anyways.
So when people say they hate meetings, I think they mean that they hate stupid meetings. If it so happens that 90% of their meetings are stupid, that’s terrible and that is the issue to address (decreasing that 90% figure).
Anyways, I’m now off to a meeting. It is one hour to help a client determine their Sharepoint strategy. I certainly hope it’s a good meeting (they get a survey afterwards to rate it 1-5 so, in aggregate, I’ll know if attendees consider my meetings stupid).
Long Live the Meeting!