work/musings { Of Enterprise and Workgroup - Meetings

Meetings, a necessity or waste of time? Its a hard question to answer. Modern business cannot seem to function without meetings.

Many meetings are wastes of time.

But meetings are necessary. Too often things are miscommunicated when not discussed face to face. The subtlety of body language is lost. Too much room for error via the impersonal mediums of teleconferences, conference calls, or the worst, email.

The meetings I've been in that have been wastes of time are usually because they could not stay on focus. They were ruined because the moderator, or person who called them, couldn't or didn't establish an agenda. Allowed others to dominate discussion.

In my experience most one hour meetings could be done in 30 minutes. Most 30 minute meetings only needed 15 and some five minute meetings needed 90.

The worst meetings where meeting discussion creep seems to happen are project meetings. The project manager should step up and except for the initial kick-off meeting, we should be merely going through the project milestones and giving on/off track brief status updates. But usually they devolve into discussion on technical minutiae where 95% of the people present could care less. Of course this requires good project management, a topic I will save for a later discussion.

Overall meetings are a necessary evil. Often in a five minute face to face meeting, weeks of angry email and missed deadlines can be avoided.

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