Meetings mania

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Meetings are essential to successful collaborative activity, but they are perverted by bureaucracies into the mean of avoiding the responsibility. 

However, many meetings are just an excuse for idle people to fill up the time available, and make it seem worthwhile and useful.

Meetings are not a substitute for thinking, they are one of two things:

    1. A forum to communicate face to face when the issue is sufficiently complicated, or important that other forms of communication are insufficient in their depth of engagement to be as effective, so the meeting its worth the cost, or,
    2. A forum to throw away the shackles of hierarchy, functional silos, and culture, and address a problem/opportunity as a 5 year old would, with delight, and no inhibitions.

All other reasons for a meeting are just an excuse, and beware of the evils of “groupthink”.

Which of these two did your last meeting fall into?

How is your organisation managing the paradox?


Being deluged by meeting requests? Tired of wasting time listening to windbags tell you how smart they are when you should be working? Does your boss make you travel to staff meetings that have meaningless agendas? I feel your pain!

There are some meetings that are held for valid reasons, at reasonable times that produce positive results, or at least SOME results. To the people who organize and run those kinds of meetings, I salute you. Working under these conditions is a pleasure!

To find out if your meeting is necessary, use the following questions to help eliminate "Meeting Mania." Be honest about why you are holding, or attending, meetings.

1. Is it a habit? Did you inherit this meeting from someone else? If you stopped having this meeting would anyone notice? Does the original project that started this meeting still exist? Has the department manager whose pet project this was retired or moved on?

2. Is it a defensive meeting? Is the point of the meeting a departmental, or a company-wide CYA "Cover Your Asphalt"? Are you spending a lot of time explaining how your group did not gum up the works?

3. Is anything new accomplished? Are pertinent new topics introduced? Have any significant updates being covered?

4. Is it for personal aggrandizement? Is someone's head getting small enough to fit through the door? Is the primary purpose of the meeting to send higher management reasons to legitimize existence of an obsolete, or unnecessary, program?

5. Are you dodging work? Is your normal work backing up while you go from meeting to meeting? Have you located ancillary meetings and invited yourself?

6. Are you checking on subordinates? Worried that without meetings you won't know what reporting people are doing? Is the meeting more about "face" time than productivity? Is there an action-packed agenda?

7. Is your boss making you schedule, or attend, these meetings? Do you feel like a spy returning to drop a dime on other departments?

8. Are you the right person to be at, or giving, this meeting? Have your responsibilities changed? Are you only responsible for part of the project? Do you have meaningful input for each meeting? Do you gain necessary information that will be used soon in your location?

9. Are customers better served because this meeting was held? Can stakeholders benefit from improvements in savings, productivity, efficiency?

If you answered "Yes" to ANY of these questions, we challenge you to think about possible options for eliminating these meetings! In our next newsletter let's brainstorm effective options to eliminate your dreadful overload of meetings. What is your own experience in meeting avoidance tactics? What ongoing "Meeting Mania" are you involved in? Drop me a line at: [email protected]

Still think you MUST have meetings? Future articles will provide some ideas on how to improve their quality!


Meeting mania- 7 points to consider. - Jennifer Frahm Collaborations

Meeting mania- - The Herald Palladium - Local News