Here is a benefit of indie-hood ~ no meeting to discuss meeting about the topic which has yet to be approved and if we move forward we may have to backtrack and redo a whole lot of things but if we don’t decide something then there aren’t strong enough windows to stop people from jumping from great heights in desperation for something to just be different.

Maybe you haven’t had the experience of meeting to talk about meeting later. If not then consider yourself lucky or blessed or genius for getting out of them. Sometimes these are pre-meetings or huddles or agenda setting consults or some other such creature. In general nothing is very much accomplished during these or during the actual meeting that follows.

doubtI once was an avid believer in the power of meeting and what was possible. Maybe (though I doubt it) these gatherings to discuss various plots and plans were different before. There certainly is an air of business and busyness about going to a room with a big (sometimes gigantic) table with all the chairs circling like some lost knighthood or worship service or theatrical performance.

There are well organized and bulleted lists with fantastically inflated headers and the ever present logo lest we forget where we are. And we sit through morale breakers and ice boosters (I might be getting those mixed up) before getting to the heart of the matter which rarely is an area that directly involves everyone in attendance or would have required more than a one on one discussion for five or ten minutes.

A terrible thing happens in a full meeting though ~ the pressure is on for ever yperson to contribute an opinion to the cause and this either devolves into “I agree with Mary (or John) except …” And then they paraphrase everything already said. Or if that behavior is not allowed then people start to focus on why whatever is being decided won’t work.

Any decision is stopped dead by the raised doubt.

The originators of the idea walk away berating themselves for having a poor idea and at some point they stop innovating. Eventually the risk taking behaviors that make things better (or at least interesting) fade away.

Risk avoidance becomes the common practice, with meetings as the way to inspire conformity from the ranks. Only safe ideas are promoted and only after great deliberation. Any originality, advantage, spark is strangled to nothingness by the time the red tape is cut back.

For today (and many more to come) ask what the point of the meeting is. Is it necessary for me to be there? What can be handled more effectively and efficiently outside of it?

As it turns out we spend a great deal of time on things that detract from the work we do. In a simple equation we can catch a glimpse of the time a meeting actually takes from productive, useful enterprise. Take the time of the meeting and multiply that by the number of people in attendance. The 2 hour meeting with 10 people present (and if you’re like me I may only be partially present even when I’m there the whole time) you end up with 20 hours of productive time used up. Compare that to the 30 minutes of a one to one conversation on the topic. 1 hour of time that is most likely far more productive and the key people come away energized rather then demoralized. And the world (especially the world of business) needs more energized and fewer demoralized people (so we can break free from the glorification of busyness).

The challenge now is to excuse yourself from meetings during the next 6 months. Experiment and see if you can get out of some, or handle things outside of the larger forum. Monitor whether you can feel more accomplished by not going to meetings. Sure there will still be those required gatherings…but maybe the time taken up by “I agree except” and “it’ll never work because” can be reduced. Maybe those pretty bullet points can be markers of progress rather than kill shots to creativity.

Thanks as always,

With civility ~ Brian

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