Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
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?
Photo by Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash
It’s a trap. The trap is a false sense of activity. You think you’re busy, and, in fact, you may be really busy, but is anything that matters really getting done? Are you advancing the cause or just filling up the calendar? Take a look at the calendar — how much of the activity really matters?
There are clear symptoms if you suffer from the “false sense of activity” syndrome. Symptom one is feeling like you are in too many meetings. By definition, too many meetings mean you are busy but getting nothing done. Symptom one leads to symptom two, which is that you are always late. Another killer symptom is reviewing your to‑do list and finding that the only things that ever come off are the easy things.
The big, tough things to do are always left for another day. When you leave the workplace at the end of the day, if you ever ask yourself, “What did I really do today?” you are suffering from a false sense of activity. It can become a nasty habit and your colleagues believe you are busy but you really are not.
Some big things can move a mile a year. Some things only move an inch a year. Just move something.
The advent of microwaves ovens created a brave new world at work. The office no longer needed to reek of printer toner and whiteboard markers alone. The office could now smell of microwave popcorn!
Ah, but it didn’t stop there. We can pop something out of the freezer (with the notes on it about cleaning up after yourself) and cook a lasagna or chicken potpie. Going even further, the microwave is now the new home for cooking leftovers. How many of us have been distracted by what we know is a reheated bean burrito or beef chow mein that was nuked just a little too long? The smell of reheated burritos can be as distracting as the guy in the cubicle next door who talks to his mother all day.
I dare you to hold a serious meeting when the smell of the garlic in the clam linguini works its way through the halls. The mind wanders in the hope that we don’t sit next to that person in the next meeting. What was not eaten at the restaurant last night does not go home, it ends up in the office microwave. The odors are shared by all.
Some say that leftovers in the office create community when everyone goes out into the hall and asks, what is that smell? Who is cooking that? Left-overs allow colleagues to share their restaurant experiences, and leftovers are the inspiration for the ironclad rule about implementation: whatever is left in the refrigerator on Friday will be thrown away.
It is always good to know that inspiration about execution can come from new sources, like leftovers. And sometimes they are best left at home.