The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Here’s why:
- They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things.
- They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.
- They drift off- subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm.
- They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for.
- They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.
- They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.
- Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another…
When I first read this, I completely agreed. Almost everyone I know has attended dull, tedious and pointless meetings that have few (if any) outcomes.
But then I got to thinking about decision making. Most organisations, like unions, political groups, community associations, make decisions at meetings. In fact, meetings can be enormously productive, with ideas proposed and problems sorted out, and action plans determined.
I think what 37 Signals are pointing out is that poorly run, disorganised meetings with no clear agenda and an inadequate chairperson are toxic. Having a clear, concise agenda for the meeting to shape discussion, and an experienced, confident chairperson to keep everyone’s attention on track, can make meetings quick, productive and relatively pleasant.
Unfortunately, these meetings are fairly rare.
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