It was a meeting.
Another product meeting.
Not necessarily structured, not necessarily on point, but for some mutually understood and agreed upon reason we were all sitting in the same room looking at the same images and design proposals. We had all arranged our time because it was deemed necessary to be there, especially the man who called the meeting. Having done the work requested, I made the design presentation, hit the high spots, promoted the idea compared to the competition.
As conversation aimlessly meandered around the table, and as the meeting worked its way to the end it occurred tome that no one in the room (except the presentation team and the convener) wanted to be there; were engaged enough to have meaningful discourse, or conclude with a go forward plan. A yes or no or redo…whatever. Nada. Nuttin’. It wasn’t that those assembled were electronically pre-occupied; there were no intrusions or interruptions, no silent or hidden agenda. There were no dramatics…in fact, no emotion at all. Everyone said their piece directed in general at the work at hand, everyone nodded and listened. No engagement, spark, edge. Actors on stage.
In the midst of this verbal sleep it was surprising to hear I wasn’t the only one with this notion, and a youngish whelp at the other end of the table piped up…”Why are we here?” Silence. Not a sound. The same person repeated the question, and added…”What are we doing? And why are we doing it?”
Well, talk about an allegorical question! The flood started and didn’t end for a considerable period! Folks just talked, mostly about their frustrations with roles and functions, customers, deliveries, and yes, life, choices, etc. It sometimes felt like I was at group therapy waited for Sally-Sue or another member to have their “breakthrough” and we would all sing “Kumbaya”! The youngish whelp looked surprised..I’m thinking he realized his question had been…re-contexualized!
Basically, what it was is that no one wanted to be discussing what was supposed to be discussed. It was just a distraction from all the other stuff that was going on. And so we decided to end the meeting, make no decision, and reconvene at another time. Maybe.
Why is this story relevant? It may not be if there are other things on your mind of a more important nature, but if you catch the drift and hang-in, the point is coming. We spend our days doing (sometimes) monotonous and /or exciting things. Meetings are held for many reasons. Information. Updates of critical scenarios. Review and clarification of difficulties, for show, to cover one’s ass, to SEEM like there is action going on…and so on and so forth. Mostly I think, meetings are supposed to be decision points. Yet, in my career, so many of them have been, well, a waste of time. Perfunctory at best, regardless of intent or need.
The point is…I would rather not. I would rather, in this day of Continuous Partial Distraction have a distribution list, send out the stuff by email and await response…even if some of the participants need to be chased. The TV image of a serious meeting or video link is misleading, falsely suggesting that’s how to get stuff done! It may sometimes happen that way, there may be useful meetings somewhere out there, but these days, I think folks would rather jump in and out as needed. Present without presence! I can get more done and dusted with a 10 minute phone call and a few “reply all” emails these days than meetings.
So, let’s get or work done as needs must, and if we have to have a meeting, do it in a well-loved bar where at least the focus and objective is well understood and agreed by all attendees!
Make mine a double, please!