Recently I was talking with two clients (partners in an engineering firm) about meetings. In particular were the meetings that one of their customers was calling on short notice with no formal purpose with a cast of thousands. We were puzzling through the various ways they could handle customers who think that it is alright to have meetings that take up lots of time and only really involve my clients occasionally for their input and expertise.
Feeling lonely today? Let’s call a meeting.
Suddenly, one of the partners, chuckled and gained the floor (not too difficult with only three people in a Skype videoconference). He recalled an earlier job in a medium size technology firm where the standing joke among the engineers concerning management was, “These guys seem to operate on the principle, ‘Feeling lonely today? Let’s call a meeting.’ “
After we all laughed a bit we once again returned to the ugly reality that most managers still do not conduct meetings following even the basics of best management practices. They do not ask what the meeting is about, what are the deliverables to be expected? Who actually needs to be at the meeting? Do we have enough information, data, to hold this meeting? Do we have a reasonable expectation that we can reach some actionable conclusions that will lead to real tasks with real outcomes? Or, is this just another meeting held ritually to review the status of projects? The moto of this approach to meetings is lets get everyone in the room and kick things around until the day has passed and everyone is bored to death.
Meetings are the lifeblood of organizations. Plan them as though blood will flow.
Meetings are the lifeblood of organizations. But, they need to be conducted as if blood was literally being spent in the process.