Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Communications Social Networks The Internet Technology

How Chat and Youth Are Killing the Meeting 205

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-riddance-i-say dept.
dominique_cimafranca writes "Forbes columnist Dan Woods describes a change in the way some companies handle meetings. Owing to instant messaging and younger tech-savvy CEOs, meeting time has gone down from as much as 30 hours per week to as little as 2 hours per week. Woods proposes ways to make this 'meetingless' management effective."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Chat and Youth Are Killing the Meeting

Comments Filter:
  • Bravo, Bravissimo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ls671 (1122017) * on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:34AM (#31845512) Homepage

    > meeting time has gone down from as much as 30 hours per week to as little as 2 hours per week

    Bravo, Bravissimo. Many of us have been aware of time wasted on meetings for quite a while.

    Let's be clear, planning is necessary and some meetings still might be needed. I guess almost everybody knows what I am talking about... ;-))

    I am sure Dilbert hasn't got the monopoly on this topic but here are some links anyway...

    http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2008-11-23/ [dilbert.com]

    http://www.dilbert.com/fast/2001-12-15/ [dilbert.com]

    http://www.revold.no/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Dilbert_MeetingMadness.jpg [revold.no]

    http://brontesaurus.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dilbert-meeting.gif [brontesaurus.com]

    http://www.dilbert.com/dyn/str_strip/000000000/00000000/0000000/000000/30000/1000/900/31967/31967.strip.gif [dilbert.com]

    http://slcta.net/images/dilbert2007112223221.gif [slcta.net]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324)

      It's almost funny (if it didn't demonstrate certain sad mindset...) that the columnist from TFA proposes ways to make this "meetingless" management effective.

      While, in large part, this shift to a less bloated meetings is a measure of increased effectivness.

      • by eln (21727) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:58AM (#31845852) Homepage
        As much as we all despise meetings, they are often needed. I've seen email exchanges go on for days arguing about something that could have been resolved in about 15 minutes with a simple conference call. There's also the issue that workers can tend to feel lost or abandoned if they don't have at least semi-regular communication with their bosses, even if it's just a weekly status meeting. For whatever reason, email communication just doesn't serve the same purpose as effectively.

        30 hours per week of meetings is definitely excessive (and lots of people in my organization have that and even more scheduled every single week), but 2 hours is, in most cases (especially for management), too little. The key is balance and making sure the meetings you schedule are effective and serve a definite purpose. Further, invitee lists for individual meetings should only include essential personnel. I've seen plenty of times when someone isn't quite sure who to invite, so rather than taking the time to find out they'll just invite anyone they can think of who might possibly have some input, which makes meetings chaotic and overly long. Further, recurring meetings should be kept short and to the point. Scheduling an hour every week is usually not necessary for most things, and if you schedule it people tend to try to fill that time, even when they don't have anything of real substance to add.

        Meetings are not the scourge of business, improperly managed meetings are.
        • Re:Bravo, Bravissimo (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Altus (1034) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:06AM (#31845978) Homepage

          One of the thing I like about Agile development (and its got some huge flaws no doubt) is the 15 minute daily meeting. It replaces status reports which take too long, are rarely accurate and are often not read by bosses or coworkers and replaces them with a fast, efficient meeting (if done correctly) where everyone gets a quick update on what other people are up too. It helps you to see your part in the overall project, helps to spot issue before they come up and give you some face time with the team and your boss.

          • by EricWright (16803)

            We don't use agile in our department, but we have adopted the daily checkpoint meeting for these very reasons. Issues don't fester very long with this approach and a decision is typically made pretty quickly. When a decision can't be made that day, someone takes away an action item to make/secure that decision.

          • by rwven (663186)

            One of the biggest flaw to a stand-up/scrum though is that rarely are scrum masters gutsy enough to enforce the rules... 5 minute scrums often end up in hour long tangential time-wasters. Not that I don't agree with you in theory though. I've just had FAR more scrum meeting failures than successes.

            • by Altus (1034)

              I think I have just had pretty good luck in that respect. If people don't know how to use the meetings (or are clinging to the old mindset of long meetings) then its probably a net loss.

              One tactic used at one of my previous employers was to hold these meetings in small rooms (formerly offices, not meeting rooms) that didn't have a table or chairs. It does help a little at keeping people from being too long winded.

        • by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:24AM (#31846262) Journal
          In most real world meetings a participant's "CPU usage" is mostly idle during the entire meeting. This is very inefficient.

          From a productivity point of view a big potential benefit of IM/IRC meetings is that participants can be in more than one meeting at the same time (and maybe even do other stuff too).

          Also it is less disruptive if people leave the meeting briefly (toilet etc) and come back - because they can scroll back to see what they missed. As for minutes, they can just do a summary at the end (e.g. who is going to do what and by when) and then submit the entire log to a designated place (so managers/others can have a record of what's happening).

          By allocating certain days/periods for "formal" IM meetings to be held, and allowing them to overlap, you can free up more time for people to do stuff that requires full concentration.

          These sort of meetings might not be so acceptable with external parties, but they should be fine for many internal meetings.

          I've actually suggested this at my workplaces before, but so far most seem to prefer "traditional meetings".
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by billcopc (196330)

            IM is appreciated when people have a set amount of work that isn't time-based.

            Face time is preferred when no one gives a shit and you just want to not sit at your desk for an hour.

        • by robot256 (1635039) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:25AM (#31846272)

          As much as we all despise meetings, they are often needed. I've seen email exchanges go on for days arguing about something that could have been resolved in about 15 minutes with a simple conference call.

          Then again, communicating properly in text is a skill that can be learned and developed. Young people who spend their lives text messaging have a great deal more experience expressing themselves in text than the previous generation, which may lead to more productive digital conversations.

          Also, IM is different from email in that it is much easier to have a back-and-forth like in a spoken conversation. It also discourages having a huge CC list like emails where 15 people have to wade through two people's misunderstanding, saving the company a lot of time.

          Furthermore, in some topics text can have a higher effective bandwidth than the spoken word. For programmers, the ability to send properly formatted code snippets back and forth is a big advantage over sitting in a meeting room with a white board. Plus, for a lot of problems you just need sparse but frequent communication with someone while you are working, and IM is perfect for when you aren't in the same room.

          Meetings are not the scourge of business, improperly managed meetings are.

          Kudos to that!

          • I have to call BS on your statement that more effective communications occur with young people via text in all cases. I would posit that is an extremely rare edge case.

            Writing is an art and a skill that has to be developed for clarity --- and too often even with the best quality and intentions, misunderstanding and confusion reigns supreme. It is something everyone struggles with, even after we have included various conventions in near real time communications (emoticons, and other indicators of emotional

        • by rwven (663186)

          You're exactly right about the 15 minute conference call. No one is complaining about 15 minute meetings here there.

        • by Magnus Pym (237274) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:38PM (#31847240)

          Good points all. The other function that meetings serve (that completely bypasses the mostly socially handicapped tech folks, myself included) is providing the inter-personal glue that holds groups and companies together, builds comradeship and makes individuals feel part of the team.

          I can see some technical people go to a meeting and come away thinking `what a horrible waste of time'. And maybe it was a waste to them. But be assured, for every such discontented individual, there are two that are served.

          Of course, I am referring to well-run meetings and not `dick-size' meetings as described by a subsequent poster.

        • Re:Bravo, Bravissimo (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @01:21PM (#31847790) Homepage

          I've seen meetings go on for a solid day because no manager in the place would man up and take charge ore responsibility. everything kept going around and around, it's what jaded me against MBA's and how worthless they are.

          I have wasted 8 hours in a meeting over a data protocol that I finally gave up and said," I'll write the damned spec, Hell I came up with a working prototype over the last 4 hours and it's already installed on the test server. Want to take a look?"

          I was afterward talked to about stepping out of my bounds and embarrassing a couple of managers. I shrugged, and said, "if they would do their jobs, I would not have to do it for them"

          I am so glad I don't work at a large corporation anymore...

          P.S.: they used my spec, After a manager tweaked it by flipping two data fields and claiming it as his own.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by vertinox (846076)

          Meetings are not the scourge of business, improperly managed meetings are.

          Excessive meetings tend to be the symptom of an improperly managed business.

    • Actually misguided (Score:5, Informative)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:57AM (#31845816) Journal

      Technology, in and of itself, will not improve meetings. Effective management improves meetings.

      Give a group of inefficient people an IM client, and they will be inefficient people IMing all day and interrupting.

      I learned a lot about running meetings from effective managers and ineffective ones. My favorite example was a Senior VP for a regional bank. He held monthly meeting with all managers. Each manager was alloted time to speak. But you better damn well have something to say. Most managers passed time off to the next. Only the hihglights that really impacted the group as a whole got shared. Generally 15-20 people invited. Meetings 15-20 minutes. It was effective use of time, effective information. managers could seek each other out if they had other things to discuss.

      Want to have good meetings?
      * Invite only those that should be there. You don't need 3 marketing guys for your project kickoff meeting
      * Above 8 or 9 invitees is a big fat warning sign.
      * Have a written agenda. Circulate it beforehand.
      * Have a hard end time to meetings. Make it intentionally shorter than it usually would go.
      * Make decisions beforehand with the key people. Most decisions don't really get made in the big meeting. Two or three key decision makers on the same page and the rest follow or simply refine the decision.

      • Dunno, it seems to me like when you look at the before and after, the sheer difference in hours wasted, would still make a difference by itself.

        Before: 30 hours per week in meetings, not just for the berk calling all those meetings in a row, but for all the people dragged to them instead of having that time to manage their own projects or teams. If you add the time spent preparing the meetings, walking to/from meetings, etc, that doesn't leave many hours (if any at all) for anything else _but_ meetings.

        Let'

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          If your job is to make decisions, maybe 30 hours a week being informed and making decisions is a good way to spend your time? Particularly if say, you work for a computer manufacturer and your boss says "ok, we're going to start up a Netbook division, and you're in charge of it. get back to me in a month and let me know what your budget is, when you expect to ship your first product, and what your division's earnings is going to be for 3rd quarter 2011."

          However, if your job is writing testing proced

          • Well, if it stayed confined to the level of the CEO and upper management, I wouldn't even have anything about it. The problem is that the culture of meetings _does_ tend to extend downwards to the level of those guys programming the netbooks.

            For a start each of those managers who get dragged to fill someone's 15-20 person meeting, in turn will fill their time with dragging other groups of 15-20 persons into meetings of their own. And then come the corporate structures often overimposed over the normal pyram

      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:15AM (#31846140)

        Meetings are really dick-size wars. The manager that can call the most people to a meeting obviously has the biggest dick. And if you have to attend that meeting, your dick is smaller than his.

        Once you get past the need for the ego boost, you notice that meetings drop off to almost nothing. No matter what the technology used, no matter what the industry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by raddan (519638) *
          I work at a place that is 90% female, and where meeting attendee counts routinely run into the 20-30 range. By contrast, my own meetings (with my staff) are in the 2-3 range.

          Is my dick really that small? Shoot. No wonder my wife lives on the other side of the country.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Don't forget that every single decision made in the meeting must have an associated "next action" assigned to somebody. Otherwise, there's no point in making that decision.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LordSnooty (853791)

        Make decisions beforehand with the key people. Most decisions don't really get made in the big meeting. Two or three key decision makers on the same page and the rest follow or simply refine the decision.

        So one of your solutions to effective meetings is to... have another meeting first? If you're making decisions prior then your main meeting sounds more like a "progress report".

      • Your recommendations presuppose a degree of professionalism on the part of the attendees. While that's a given in banking, law, finance, etc., I don't think it exists to the same degree elsewhere, particularly in IT. That's not to say such things can't be learned. Given enough time and sufficient motivation, children can be made to behave like adults, and ineffective managers can learn to manage.

      • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:51AM (#31846588)

        * Make decisions beforehand with the key people. Most decisions don't really get made in the big meeting. Two or three key decision makers on the same page and the rest follow or simply refine the decision.

        I can't stress this one enough. Meetings are not the place to hash out decisions - especially if they're cross-departmental meetings. I've had untold meetings wasted where we finally managed to get all the head honchos together in the same room, and we spend the hour trying to come to an agreement on point 1, sub-point a.

        Instead, have an individual talk with the people who either sign the pay checks or who have some sort of authority to make things happen. Come to an agreement before the meeting, and then just present the conclusions. Yes, you should still listen to objections from others in the meeting - after all, everyone's there for a reason. But you should never, ever walk have a meeting without knowing exactly who is going to say what.

        If you can make this happens, meetings are short, productive, and leave people happy. Everything else is icing on the cake.

      • by DomNF15 (1529309)

        Technology, in and of itself, will not improve meetings. Effective management improves meetings.

        No. Not having meetings improves meetings :-)

        To be serious though, the points you mention are good ones, I'd also like to add, invite a "bad guy" - the bad guy's role will be to kick meeting derailers in the junk :-)

      • by wonkavader (605434) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @12:38PM (#31847228)

        Not misguided, but under-informed. Let me just expand on what you've implied.

        People think they can multitask. Young people who grow up with it especially are certain they can do it with little or no penalty. But they can't, as recent studies have shown.

        The studies Tom DeMarco talks about in his programming management books (/Peopleware/ jumps to mind) which show that programming speed (and especially style) goes down with interruption and noise.

        The assumption that the IM time is free and productive is a fallacy. Instead of paying for an annoying meeting for an hour a day, management is now paying for a low-level intrusion ALL DAY LONG. So while this may be an improvement, it needs to be quantified. (It may actually be a net loss of productivity.)

        It is probably (though not certainly -- we need numbers and studies) more profitable to make meetings short and effective.

    • Good grief (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:00AM (#31845886) Journal

      Good grief, if they had 30 hours of meetings per week, and probably a few more hours walking to the next meeting and whatnot, when did they have time to do any actual work? I'm affraid that just hearing about spending 30 hours a week in meetings tops everything I've ever read in a Dilbert strip.

      That gives me kind of a snarky idea, though. I've long been under the impression that most meetings (or a large part of the time allocated to them) falls basically into two categories:

      - substitute for a social life (think: the boss just wants to talk to some people)

      - responsibility avoidance (think: we all talked about it for hours, hence nobody is personally responsible for any given decision or lack thereof. Sorta like why they give firing squads blanks too.)

      There are of course sub-categories and nuances (e.g., the crying on each other's shoulder instead of taking a decision kind of meeting, or the kind that's not just a substitute for social contact, but a one-sided occasion to brag too.) But I think that as top-leve categories, those two would account for more than half of the time wasting.

      I wonder if the reduction in meeting hours just has to do with, well, if you give a lonely boss email and IRC and IM and all, he can get his socializing fix without preventing his subordinates from working in the process.

      • by raddan (519638) *
        Well, you also need to keep in mind that certain kinds of employees should NOT be doing hands-on stuff. CEOs, for instance. A competent CEO realizes that his role is to carefully manage the division of labor to achieve the company's goals, and that's it. CEOs who get "hands on", even really smart, technically-competent ones, tend to make a mess of things, because they're not inside that problem domain regularly. If they have to know why a particular API function takes 3 parameters instead of 2, middle-m
      • Good grief, if they had 30 hours of meetings per week, and probably a few more hours walking to the next meeting and whatnot, when did they have time to do any actual work?

        And that, my friend, is precisely why the cost plus contracts that fund the defense industry always run over budget and over schedule. In my experience working for big government contractors, this is precisely the common schedule of most engineers on the project, and this is precisely why nearly no work gets done.

      • by barzok (26681)

        Good grief, if they had 30 hours of meetings per week, and probably a few more hours walking to the next meeting and whatnot, when did they have time to do any actual work?

        I once worked on a project where we had near-daily meetings of 60-90 minutes to discuss why we were slipping behind schedule.

        I once pointed out the absurdity of it to the project manager. Her response was to schedule another meeting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I would KILL to have a 2 hour meeting per week!

      We currently have about a 5 minute whiteboard session every other day from the Manager, and are left to Execute everything as we go. We used to have a 2 hour meeting last year, about every month. Those were good times.

      Man, if 30 hours a week was ever a norm, that'd be awesome! Sitting and talking about how awesome it'd be to get stuff done. I mean, they do realize that there are only 40 hours in a work week, right? Thats like 2 hours a day of actual work!

      • by nomadic (141991) <[nomadicworld] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:14AM (#31846106) Homepage
        I mean, they do realize that there are only 40 hours in a work week, right?

        Can I have your job?
      • by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:20AM (#31846206) Journal

        Some of us really LIKE the work we do. Its the people we do it with that we don't like. If I had to do less actual work, and spend more time with the people I do the work with, I would quit.

        • by Inda (580031)
          Meetings are the practical alternative to work!

          Last week, I actually told someone to repeat the question as I was daydreaming. It got a laugh but I hoped, deep down, the speaker realised that long meetings are boring and non-productive. People who think that a 5,000 word speech makes them sound knowledgeable and important are deluded.
      • by netsavior (627338)
        yeah, meetings are significantly worse than doing actual work... if you do not think this, then you should not be doing the job that you are doing.
      • by sorak (246725)

        I don't know if you're being sarcastic, but the problem there is that deadlines have to be met, regardless of whether you are allowed to work on your project. I am currently finishing a major project where development slowed to a crawl because of daily meetings, side projects, and changing requirements. It was incredibly frustrating to spend two hours talking about what needs to be done, and then spend the remainder of the day fighting to free up one to two hours in which to actually do the work.

    • by yurtinus (1590157) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:04AM (#31845948)
      While I laud the efforts in reducing meeting time, I am not yet convinced that the ends justify the means...

      Slashdot, I ask you this: can u tolr8 this blud on ur hands?
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by andyh3930 (605873) * on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:35AM (#31845526)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:36AM (#31845536)

    ...these horrible technologies turn every hour of every day into an eternal meeting.

    • No kidding... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IANAAC (692242) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:11AM (#31846048)
      When I was still working in IT, the last contract job I had, I had a micro-manager from hell. He'd never held any sort of management job before, but technically was brilliant.

      He needed to be in constant contact with me throughout the entire day.

      I had gone down to the server room for about 45 minutes, and came back to this IM:

      "ANSWER ME!!!! YOU MUST ANSWER ME! I AM YOUR MANAGER AND NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!" I'm not kidding. It was that obnoxious.

      Never mind the fact that we all carried around cellphones and he could have easily called me if he so desperately needed to talk to me.

      It turned out that, as usual, all he wanted was a "status update" on an install I was doing. Honestly, this was more of a quite common tech-to-management role switch problem, but the fact that he had IM at his disposal just made workdays damn near unbearable.

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      Meetings are sometimes the most exhaustive part of my work day. Maybe *that's* why we all bitch about them so much - it takes work for us socially dysfunctional nerds to communicate our ideas in a socially acceptable way.

      Also, the meetings that aren't intensive are a good break from the daily grind.

      I can sympathize with the anti-meeting sentiment, but it's not always the case.

    • Exactly right - meetings never end, interruptions never stop, and drive-by management becomes an even easier habit to fall into. It may be tiresome, but there are real benefits to getting the right people into a room, and focusing on the problem at hand. Where chat rooms and follow-on technologies really shine is enabling these meetings over great distances.
  • I don't know (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:40AM (#31845572) Homepage

    I've been sitting in an IRC channel with all the devs all day every day. Sounds like an all-day meeting to me, it's just more efficient.

    • by AlXtreme (223728)

      Especially as you can easily "opt-out" of said all-day virtual meeting. Disable IRC, IM, e-mail and turn off your mobile and you can actually get some work done.

      Then again, I'm finding monthly in-person meetings per project are necessary to keep everyone updated. Video/voice-conferencing only works to a certain degree on complex projects, sometimes it's just more efficient to get everyone together.

    • by delinear (991444)
      Exactly, this kind of technology just allows some similarity with everyone sitting in one room - which in itself would remove much of the need for meetings (it's occasinally still more productive to get a subset of people together face to face to talk issues over). The other benefit I find with working this way over traditional meetings is that, unless the entire meeting is centred around me and what I'm doing, it's usually more productive for me to dip in and out as required and be doing other things in th
  • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:41AM (#31845590)

    To succeed in the long term and at scale, stream-of-consciousness management must be supplemented in the following ways:

    All of you using IRC and email now have experience in "stream-of-consciousness management". Don't forget or otherwise the resume scanners will pass you over and when you're in the first interview, the HR drone will say you don't have up to date skills and chuck your resume away.

    • Do they have to carry "The Catcher in the Rye" on themselves to be a "stream-of-consciousness" manager?

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:42AM (#31845606) Homepage
    We need to get back to the Old Ways, where we invested all of time more wisely in Talking About Doing Stuff. We fear this new fangled "work".
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      We need to get back to the Old Ways, where we invested all of time more wisely in Talking About Doing Stuff. We fear this new fangled "work".

      Actually, what we're doing right here is talking about the way of discussing how to talk about doing something.

      Hmm, wait... No, it's posting about talking about how to talk about... fuck got lost again. It's talking about talking about talking about talking. Yeah, that's it.

  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:42AM (#31845608) Journal

    Thirty hours of a forty-hour workweek devoted to meetings? I'm sure managers are getting nervous at the idea you can spend two hours a week on meetings and 38 hours a week getting stuff done.

    Just like I have to show that I've gotten something done for the company in order to justify my paycheck, maybe it's time for the meeting-happy managers to show that their meetings have provided value to the company.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      i think we need to schedule a bi monthly meeting so we can present our progress on this. i'll order the snacks.
    • I'm sure managers are getting nervous at the idea you can spend two hours a week on meetings and 38 hours a week getting stuff done.

      Except that 'getting stuff done' is not necessarily how they spend the other 38 hours. At a company I worked at recently, much of the remaining 38 hours was spent maneuvering for political advantage. The reason there are fewer meetings isn't necessarily because the management is more efficient, but because they're not bothering to manage. And as bad as micro-management is, every-man-for-himself doesn't work very well on most projects either.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kick6 (1081615)

      Thirty hours of a forty-hour workweek devoted to meetings? I'm sure managers are getting nervous at the idea you can spend two hours a week on meetings and 38 hours a week getting stuff done.

      Sadly, the 40 hour work week is a failed assumption. Salaried people are expected to get their stuff done however long it takes. Which means that you're meeting 30 hours a week.............and working an additional 30.

    • I think you missed something about this being about the CEO of the company. Of course he is in meeting for 75% of his schedule. He is hired to communicate the operations of the company to share holders and directions to the internal management. The other 25% is probably prep time for the presentations that he is making during the meetings. This is just a case of technology replacing the meeting because the CEO chooses to communicate through another medium then speech.
    • by Thaelon (250687)

      show that their meetings have provided value to the company

      There's a meeting for that.

  • by Aurisor (932566) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:42AM (#31845610) Homepage

    I work for a very successful, young company which is run by a very young CEO. On average, I have no meetings at all. We're currently in a huge crunch right now, which means I have 3-minute check-ins at the beginning and the end of the day.

    Long meetings have been the butt of jokes for as long as I can remember, and for good reason: they're a giant waste of time, especially for technical people.

    This looks very much like one of those articles people will be mocking in 10 years. This really makes Forbes look like they're clinging to the 20th century...how embarrassing.

    • by ShinmaWa (449201)

      I have no meetings at all. We're currently in a huge crunch right now

      For some reason, I just can't help but feel that these two things might actually be related.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:44AM (#31845628)

    Ostensibly you hold meetings to do three things

    1) Share current status
    2) Discuss ideas
    3) Plan

    A good manager has all these worked out beforehand, and uses this preparation to lead the meeting effectively and efficiently.

    If you are spending hours and hours in meetings with your team, something is terribly wrong.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nerdfest (867930)
      There are better tools than meetings to do 1, and maybe even 2.
      • by lwriemen (763666)

        I agree. DeMarco (and Lister?) stated that the "status" meeting is often a "status affirmation" meeting where the manager is proving they have the power to waste your time.

    • If all of those are worked out ahead of time, then there shouldn't be a need for a meeting for that information to be communicated.

      The only REAL need for a meeting is during a crisis that you have NOT prepared for.

  • A little tear squeezed from the corner of my eye and I thought "Has heaven indeed begun to poke its head through into Earth?" Then I read the article and realized that the meetings have gone from as little as 30 hours a week to as long as the entire work week, just one long virtual meeting.
    "Ahh, Hell! You sneaky bum, disguising yourself as heaven again only to suck in the unwary."

    • Then I read the article and realized that the meetings have gone from as little as 30 hours a week to as long as the entire work week, just one long virtual meeting.

      Where the hell do you people work that you spend that much time in meetings? I've been in the military, and worked as a contractor with meeting-loving, long-rambling-discussion-having government employees, and I doubt I've ever spent more than 20 hours in a single week in meetings. And those weeks were extremely rare--they maybe happened once or twice per year.

      Have I just luckily dodged the horriffic work environments that exist out there, or are you people just embellishing your stories?

      • by GlL (618007)

        I think that this is slightly hyperbole, but in a couple of the places I have worked there were 60 hour work weeks with half of that being pointless meetings. 90% of the meetings were what I call "manager job justification" meetings. I specifically think of a consulting firm I worked for.

  • Would someone please tell my boss about this?

  • by Lendrick (314723) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:54AM (#31845762) Homepage Journal

    ...until morale improves.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Good news: Fewer and shorter meetings.
    Bad news: Now every time you're IM'd by your manager it is a meeting.
    Good news: Everyone can be 'in the loop' all of the time
    Bad news: It's even easier to keep people out of the loop
    Good news: Everything is less formal -- no more meeting minutes or meeting rules
    Bad news: Now every single scrap of paper and electronic barf that crosses your desk must be recorded and filed.
    Good news: With laptops and smart phones you can have a 'meeting' at any time day or night ti fit yo

    • Bad news: Now every single scrap of paper and electronic barf that crosses your desk must be recorded and filed.

      I'd say this is the one serious drawback. For the most part we have moved over to using IM to gut perhaps 60% of our meetings, but those IMs have segmented into:

      -Company Client: No man's land of IMs, every word is saved internally, completely public and only the top dogs even touch it. Every word you type is an invitation for termination and hitting enter is like signing a mortgage.

      -Pidgin: Logs are shared locally, unless you are an idiot and save it on a share; often used for poisioning your enemies well,

  • ...there is no such thing as a "productive" meeting.

    However, I'm not sure I can see a meeting where the meeting notes go somethng like: :)

    Doing well.

    LOL

    Should we do lunch?

    Y

    OK, what next?

    Project A

    HTH!
  • Damn youngsters!

    Pray tell me, where are we now going to get our free donuts?

    Jeez, get off my lawn!

  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @10:59AM (#31845870) Homepage

    Man, two hours a week isn't nearly enough time for the micromanagement, pontification, self-promotion, idle chatter and general dumbfuckery that has become the mainstay of my job -- I can't see anyone in management in any serious-size company (where the most important job qualification for middle management is, of course, meetings) going for this.

    My God, can you just imagine having eight hours to sink into work, unbroken by pointless meetings? Being able to concentrate on a task rather than sit in some soul-crushing little room with fluorescent lighting just to realize that your boss brought you in just so he'd have people sitting there to look impressive to some other department? Getting things done rather than listen to your coworkers discuss the specifics of your job even though they're not vaguely qualified to do so?

    It'd be glorious.

    • Worse: your boss drags you into a pointless meeting where you have no input to impress a CLIENT - and you know if you lunge across the table and plunge that letter opener into the jugular of the yammering sales rep your boss will want to have a meeting about THAT. (On the other hand, of the client likes seeing the sales rep spurt blood you could get a promotion - after the obligatory meeting, of course.)

  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:00AM (#31845894)
    It is hilarious/annoying as hell when you get an older "C" level executive who uses the corporate IM like this:
    Bossman: Are you there?
    Me: yes
    *phone rings*

    I usually answer their questions, which are always about *impossible to say verbally* statistics within the IM window, even while they are talking on the phone... Kind of as a way to Passive-Aggressively say "hey you know all that licensing money you pay to Microsoft for this nice IM solution? it would work better than the phone if you would just use it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      phone has less of an audit trail

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by netsavior (627338)
        which is code for "calls me all the damn time to ask the same question over and over again"
    • by jimicus (737525)

      Seriously, somebody would pay Microsoft for an IM solution?

      Truly, the modern equivalent of "nobody got fired for buying IBM" (subtext: even if the IBM product is lousy, even if there are others which are both substantially cheaper and better).

      • by Kaboom13 (235759)

        If you already have a Windows environment, using AD and Exchange, it is generally easier to just pay MS their pound of flesh to use their client then bother fighting with a "free" solution. If anyone knows a free solution that can pull account and profile info from AD, server info from AD (or otherwise auto config based off the user logged in without resorting to maintenance intensive logon scripts) and support encryption, centralized logging, clients for multiple platforms, redundant servers, etc without

  • ... a lot of bugs in a project, indicate that something ain't quite right with the project. Folks scramble to figure out what needs to be done to have less bugs. When your level of bugs go down, you got your project right again.

    A lot of meetings in a project, also indicate that something ain't quite right. Instead of scheduling more meetings, folks should try to figure out why they think they need so many meetings.

    Just like development is proud to say, "Hey, we have less bugs!", management should be pr

  • Informal meetings are great. Formal meetings should die. They waste time that could be saved by things like pre-recorded webinar thingies.

  • Dr. Farnsworth: Good news everyone, I've eliminated the meeting... it only took a millennium for it to die of old age, that and your next paychecks. But long story short: naptime is over!
    Hermes: Noooooooooooooooooooooo!
    Fry: [wakes up] Huh, what happend?
    Leela: They're trying to take away our benefits, we have to unionize to save the meeting!
  • you gather numerous people in a room, either all listen and scribble while one is talking, or more than one talk in a chaos. you cant do any other work during that time, you cant take a piss, you cant eat, you cant even think properly.

    online meetings are a blessing. you can still do actual work during online meetings. actually best is online chat. you dont need to talk, or you dont need to watch. people dont have to listen. you can type long blocks of text, and anyone can take their time while reading and d

  • New Title (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:19AM (#31846184)
    Perhaps a better article title would be "How Meetings and those Who Like them are Killing Productivity".
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:29AM (#31846324)
    Best idea from Extreme Programming
  • Here we used to use IM internally, until it was ruined. We generally, no longer use IM.

    Other folks figured out they can try to skip procedures by using IM. You know all those procedures? F those procedures we'll just send an IM to some random person, that's the new procedure.

    A lot of complaining about our work schedules in a 24x7 department. Why, I never reported it because so-and-so was on vacation so I couldn't IM him. What about the three guys sitting there doing nothing? Well, they're not in my bu

  • by adenied (120700) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:43AM (#31846474)

    By the headline I thought this might be about people using IM during meetings killing things. I tend to agree that having multi-hour meetings usually is pretty useless. If you really have that much information that needs to be shared chances are no one in your audience can absorb it all in a long tedious non-interactive meeting.

    OTOH, I hope people don't try to take this as "we can do everything without face to face interaction!" This is also problematic. I work with a number of people who live far away and only come into the office every few weeks. We work pretty well over the interwebs but the couple days we get for face to face interaction is invaluable.

    Back to my first thought, when you do have to be in a meeting and bring a laptop, just don't bury yourself in IMing with other people, checking e-mail, etc. It's distracting and I really hate it when someone has to repeat a question because someone was reading the latest Slashdot headlines. It's a level of inconsiderateness that shouldn't be found in a professional environment. That said, if I called a meeting and it seems useless to you, tell me!

  • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc,paradise&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @11:46AM (#31846526) Homepage Journal
    For at least three hours a day, I try to turn off my IM client and ignore my email. If I don't, I am not able to get enough focused effort on any one task in order to get things done.

    The problem with replacing face-to-face with IMs and emails is that you turn what should be a few short meetings into long, drawn-out discussions that can continue pulling attention away for hours.

    • by c-reus (852386)

      It is not that easy to do that in a distributed working environment (I mean people in different cities, countries, timezones). Not answering the e-mails and IMs for three hours can quickly escalate to having to explain your boss that you do not have problems with communicating with other people. Especially in cases where you are working at a different location than your boss.

  • Woods proposes ways to make this 'meetingless' management effective

    I'm not quite sure, but this seems to imply that 'meeting-full' management was effective. I will argue tooth and nail that the opposite is true. What I've found to be effective has been hands-off managers that move heaven and earth to make sure their people can get their jobs done quickly and efficiently. They don't buy into any single management methodology but instead adapt as the situation requires them to. If a meeting is necessary, they call a meeting. They don't force new tools or methods on you

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound

Working...