Meeting Creep

I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve been in a meeting that stayed on topic and ended on time.

I found myself in a meeting this afternoon that did not meet the above parameters. Even when it was on topic it was excruciatingly inefficient. People repeat themselves and repeat themselves and repeat themselves. It’s as though they don’t believe that you heard them the first time so they’re going to make sure you do.

Or maybe my other theory of meetings is more accurate: people love meetings so they can hear their own voice in a group setting. Personally, I try not to talk in meetings unless absolutely necessary. Otherwise, the pain is prolonged.

Don’t get me wrong, meetings are useless and should be banned. Don’t get me wrong, meetings have their place. Sometimes they’re even necessary. I just think they need to be constrained to the following criteria:

  1. Don’t schedule meetings. They’re generally a waste of time. At the very least, ask yourself if the meeting is needed. Can you accomplish the same outcome with a well crafted email? Or even a poorly crafted email. I’m not picky, just don’t make me go to a meeting.
  2. No meeting should ever last longer than 30 minutes. If you can’t get the work done in that amount of time, then you need time management training.
  3. Meetings should only be held in the late afternoon. Meetings disrupt the work day. It can be very difficult to get back into the swing of things after a boring meeting. At least a late afternoon meeting only disrupts the late afternoon which is a less than productive time of day for most employees anyway.
  4. All meetings should ascribe to the DRY principle. Do not Repeat Yourself. Anyone caught repeating a point they already made should be told to sit in the corner. If people didn’t get your point the first time, that means it was stupid or totally irrelevant.
  5. Meetings should have an extremely narrow topic.
  6. Meetings should never get off topic. This is known (by me) as meeting creep. Nobody cares if everyone in your department got new chairs, you got a new phone, your dog died or you’ve lost weight. All of that and more can wait until your next google chat exchange with your friend two cubicles from yours.
  7. Two people should not dominate the meeting unless doing so will get the meeting over much quicker. Two people talking is called a conversation which can be done over the phone or via email. Don’t subject others to your own conversations. We just don’t care that much.
  8. Finally, the next meeting should never be scheduled during the current meeting. There should be a federally mandated waiting period between the current meeting and the scheduling of a new one. This is also known as a cooling off period during which people can reconsider if another meeting is actually needed. It usually isn’t.

Follow the above rules and you’ll have much happier meeting attendies. If you’re the attendie, try handing the rules list to the meeting organizer. It probably won’t do any good but it’ll make you feel better.

In a future post I hope to provide you with a meeting survival kit in case you do find yourself in a “creepy” meeting that’s gone on too long and doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight. Until then, avoidance is your best defense.

I Don’t Want To Write This

A few months ago I set a goal to post something, anything really, to this blog every weekday. Some days this is a photograph or a drawing or a poem that I wrote. Other days I have the time to buckle down and put something together with a little more substance.

Lately, however, I’ve been so busy that I don’t have time to get my brain into “creation mode“. Works keeps me glued to problems and projects during the day and family responsibilities keep me cranking away until it’s time for bed.

This stinks because I’m one who writes about being creative, not getting stuck for ideas and inspiration and how to motivate yourself. I’ll get back into the swing of things but I thought it would be good here to openly admit that sometimes I stink at taking my own advice.

I need a reset. I’m not sure what form that will take but I hope it happens soon. Maybe I just need to go back and read some of my own blog posts

Just Say No To Holiday Leap Frog

I try not to get annoyed at too many things in life. Annoyances, left unchecked, tend to make people miserable. But there are a handful of things that still really get to me. One of those things is the displaying of Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.  We play up Halloween as if it’s a real holiday and then start throwing up the lights and plastic reindeer before the sugar rush has even begun to wear off. I understand why stores skip Thanksgiving. They haven’t figured out how to make money from it (yet). But let me here plead with my neighbors and anyone reading this to forgo tossing up the tinsel until after Thanksgiving. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. But Thanksgiving is a close second. It’s a great time to get together with family and friends and show our gratitude to God for providing us with so much in our lives. But too often it gets ignored until that fateful Thursday when we stuff ourselves with food, watch a football game and then go to sleep early. It’s no wonder that we give the day such short shrift though. There’s no build-up, no anticipation and no backing by all those people playing holiday leap frog by putting up Santa knickknacks the day after we celebrate evil, death and mayhem. To these people I say: take a cold shower and rid yourself of the urge to dilute one of America’s finest days for celebrating all we have.  

A Plea For Transparency in Advertising

Panhandlers and bums are becoming more and more honest and trasparent. It’s become fashionable for them to display signs saying something like “Not gonna lie, I need beer”.

Why can’t businesses be more like today’s forward thinking beggars? I’d appreciate the honesty of a commercial stating “We really don’t care about your needs, we just want your money”?

Actions Speak Louder

It’s important to pay attention to what people say. But the real measure of a man is in what he does.

Take politicians for example. They love to talk and promise the world to get elected. Once elected, however, they very often disappoint their constituents by not following through with what they promised.

So how can you tell if you’ve elected a good leader or a total dud? You look at their actions. How did they vote on issues if they were previously elected? Did they vote at all or were they absent most of the time? If they were a private citizen prior to being elected, what did they do? How did they act?

The same action based principles hold true with businesses. Advertisements and mission statements might get me in the door. But it’s the way employees treat me or the way a manager handles a problem I may have with their product or service that determines if I become a loyal client or not.

In today’s information driven world there’s a lot of talk and little action. This makes it hard, but not impossible, to judge character. It definitely takes a bit of work. But by observing actions, regardless of intent, we can form a pretty good model of who people are.

Go Take a Walk

I encounter all kinds of people on my daily walks around my neighborhood. I’m usually really shy and introverted (especially in the morning) but I make it a point to try and say hello or good morning and make eye contact with everyone I pass.

Most people smile or wave and say “good morning”. But every once in a while I come across one who stares straight ahead and walks by me like I don’t even exist. Why do these people wake up so early if they’re going to be so nasty about it? You’re better off sleeping in if you’re just going to bring me down man.

I really enjoy walking but I think there are a lot of people out there who do it because they think they have to. I never did understand exercise you don’t like.

A Morning Like That

I love it when I can start off the day by lounging in bed for 45 minutes, get up and go for a brisk walk, eat a liesurely breakfast, go to a Bible study at church, come home to work for an hour, then look up to see that it’s only 8:00am.

I didn’t set my alarm for things to work out that way. I’m glad they did though. Unfortunately, tonight, I’m going to be a zombie but that’s the price you pay to have a morning like that.

From the Mouths of Babes

Said at home, it would have been funny. But when the little girl repeated her mother’s shopping list in the middle of Target, the mother was somewhat mortified.

I was in the right place and the right time to hear the exchange. The little girl was riding in the cart and holding the list. She said “Mommy, all we have left on the list is candy and alcohol”. I thought that was humorous enough but then the mother quickly responded while looking around furtively, “rubbing alcohol, it’s just rubbing alcohol”.

It’s funny how context and abbreviation can lead to misconceptions. It’s also funny how embarrased we can get on just the assumption of what other people might be thinking. I bet that mother writes more detailed lists now or just doesn’t let her kid hold them anymore.