Seth’s Blog: Meetings

Holy Bat-Shit, Ape-Man!  Seth NAILS IT!

I spent the better part of 2000-2004 in meetings.  Literally 60% of my time was in a meeting.  In some cases we had weekly meetings on a single subject for 2-3 weeks before anything was decided.  If you have that kind of time to make a decision, you do NOT need a freaking meeting!

I don’t agree with the “What are you up to” meeting.  This can be done on a blog, or a WiKi, or if you have to, use email.

But I LOVE the “Just so everyone knows” meeting – especially as it’s designed here – a lecture from a podium – NOT a group discussion.   I could have saved man-years if I would have been able to heed and breed that advice within the company.

My favorite meeting of course is the “what do you think” type.  But they were never scheduled correctly at my office – they all lasted an hour – two at the most.  They shouldn’t.  They should last a day.  They should at least be scheduled for a day.  Why?  Because it takes a good 30 minutes to really get into a flow of ideas – to get people participating – to get the shy guy or girl in that back to strengthen up and share that million dollar idea.  Don’t short-chance your idea meetings.  That’s your IP.  That’s your strength.  Cultivate it.

“Hanging out meetings” – yeah, hate those.  I’ve been on both sides of those – as someone that “felt I needed to be there (I was wrong) and as the meeting organizer – where I invited someone over and over because I needed/wanted/expected their input.  And they do email for an hour.  They cannot help you.  Dump them.

But the best meeting of all is the one you never need to call – and there are so many collaborative tools now to allow you to share information – MANY OF THEM ARE FREE!!!  Like WiKi’s (I use two WiKi’s now to communicate with distant clients), blogs (blogs are GREAT for status reports – because I get the RSS feed, and read it when I can – no looking through unthreaded email to find reports from 16 people, not merging Word documents.  Just all my status, all in one place, all ready for me to ingest – on my schedule!


Here are a few very distinct types of meetings:

  • Just so everyone knows: This is a meeting in which one person or small group tells other people what’s already been decided and is about to happen. These meetings should always have a written piece to go with them, and in many cases, it should be distributed a day before the meeting. The meeting should be very short, take place in an auditorium type setting, not a circle, and have focused Q&A at the end. Even a quiz. It’s the football huddle, and the running back isn’t supposed to challenge the very premises the quarterback is using to call the play.
  • What are you up to: This is a meeting in which every participant needs to present the state of their situation. It probably happens on a regular basis and each person should have a strict time limit. Like two minutes (with an egg timer). After presenting the situation, each attendee can send their summary in an email to one person, who can sum it up and send it out to everyone.
  • What does everyone think? In third place, a meeting where anyone can speak up. People who don’t speak up on a regular basis should not be invited back. It’s obvious they are good at some other function in the office, so you’re wasting their time if they sit there.
  • We need a decision right now. These are ad hoc meetings that have a specific agenda and should end with a decision. A final decision that doesn’t get reviewed.
  • Hanging out meetings. These are meetings with no real agenda, lots of side conversations, bored people, people instant messaging and just sort of hanging out. Sometimes these are fun, but I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t been to one in three years.
  • To hear myself talk meetings. You get the idea.

Source: Seth’s Blog: Meetings