Can We Collectively Agree to Cancel Meetings?

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When my son was three years old he would occasionally call for a meeting. He didn’t know what a meeting was but he heard all the adults talking about meetings so he thought they must be something worth exploring. We dissuaded him of the notion.

Some companies are eliminating the performance review process. Why not keep going and eliminate meetings? We like the doughnuts, we don’t like the smell of dry erase markers and questions like, “Can we do a process check?” Would the world end if we eliminated meetings? What would happen if we just stopped meeting?

  • Communication would suffer. Or would it? Between e‑mail, texting, and checking out all the posts on social media, would we communicate less?
  • Colleagues would not work together as well. Maybe. It does help to know one another, but is partnering enhanced through meetings?
  • Coordination between teams would be limited, we might duplicate each other’s activities, and calendars would be a big mess. The alternative could be checking project schedules and checking for intersections. Maybe the projects would get completed earlier.
  • Team building would not exist. I am not sure most people look at meetings as team building activities. Lunch is more likely to be seen as team building time. At a time when lots of people work at home, team building can come when time spent together outside of meetings is scheduled.

The alternatives to meetings now include conference calls and actual one‑to‑one phone calls with people talking. Plus, the daily “coffee” with pals and lunch are now requirements. Things do get resolved in these interactions. People figure out how to get together to solve problems without having a routine meeting.

Think of the money that could be ­saved — whiteboard markers would never dry up. Conference rooms could be rented out for Airbnb use. Think of the weight we could lose by not sitting for hours and eating doughnuts. Wait, keep the doughnuts, just put them in the kitchen.

Meetings are habit forming. We are trained in how to conduct effective meetings, but maybe we should be trained in whether or not we really need to have the meeting.

Big, progressive companies have eliminated the routine performance review. Why not move on to meetings. Can we try it? Should we have a meeting about it?

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