Monday, March 24, 2014

Meeting Flashback

On a whim the other day, I found myself mucking out my locker at work.

Aside from the usual guff you find in these exercises, I unearthed:

  • Certificates for courses I had attended in the 1990s ("Motivating your staff for supervisors – non-office 1994", I ask you)
  • Doorstop training manuals for long dead computer systems
  • My 1999 appraisal (from a former manager who sits no more than ten feet away, showing the startling ambition that we have both exhibited in the last 15 years)
  • A series of letters from my then boss, culminating in a 4.5% pay rise. Four and a half per cent!
I'd wax lyrical about that pay rise, but then I remembered what it was like at the time: A series of meetings that lasted for days at a time.

I hate meetings.

I REALLY hate meetings, and will do anything to avoid meetings if humanly possible, and it was these meetings that made me hate meetings. Meetings.

You see, we were – as many organisations are wont to do all the time – examining "new ways of working", mainly because the former new ways of working we had devised from a series of long Ways Of Working meetings weren't workingy enough, and somebody had been on a change management course.

These meetings went like this:

  1. Spend all day deciding new ways of working because our ways of working weren't workingy enough.

  1. Reach the end of the agenda, inwardly punching the air because the meeting is over.   

  1. Reel in horror as the boss says "Right, let's go back and validate our assumptions", meaning that we have EXACTLY THE SAME MEETING ALL OVER AGAIN in the hope that we arrive at the same outcome.

I repeat: We had EXACTLY THE SAME MEETING ALL OVER AGAIN in the hope that we arrive at the same outcome.

Strangely, we never once arrived at a different outcome.

Years later, I cannot recall what new ways of working we decided on to replace the old ways of working. Needless to say, we are not working them any more.  


Dioclese said...

Pre-meeting to decide what you're going to say at the meeting are even better!

When I worked at Sony in a previous lifetime, the favourite way of ending a meeting was "Thank you for coming. I think we've successfully identified the problem."

I used to make myself popular by saying "Can we decide what we're going to do about it before we close, then?"

I was usually told that was the subject for another meeting.

Ray said...

In the Civil Service in the nineties I once went to a Pre-Meeting, then the actual meeting and then a Post-Meeting. In all 3 sessions the exact same people were there - no one added, no one taken away and we essentially wasted 3 hours of the day, 2 of which were spent preparing for and rehashing the hour long meeting we had.

I forget what the meeting was about. I spent most of the meeting trying to work out what the hell I was at the meeting for. Happy days.

Anonymous said...

"... I think we've successfully identified the problem."

Sony IS the problem.

TonyF said...

Meetings work best if they are limited to three people.

And two of them fail to show up.

Hal U Sargen said...

The chart on the clipboard shows the popularity of meetings not involving booze and drugs.