Shh! We’re eavesdropping right now on a discussion between two healthcare executives who’ve just identified an issue that needs to be resolved.
“Let’s schedule a meeting.”
For the most part, meetings are a waste of time. No, not all meetings. Just most of them. Like most of their cousins: “let’s form a committee” and “let’s investigate.”
They are the result of confusing busyness with business. They are at the heart of the distinction between bureaucratic thinking (the rule of the desk – the adoration of procedure as opposed to action) and entrepreneurship (the conversion of resources from a lower level of productivity to a higher level).
Sure, some meetings are productive. But only if the attendance is small and the agenda is restricted.
Consider this: Two companies are considering a deal of some vague sort. Does it pay to have a meeting between the sides to decide what kind of deal they are interested in or does it pay to first exchange ideas, one leader to another, on the basic type of transaction? I firmly believe it’s the latter. Only once the type of deal and the major deal points are agreed to, at least in principle, does it pay to have a meeting. Otherwise you’ll simply waste your time.
I’m fully aware of the power of face to face interaction. It’s just that despite book titles, there is no such thing as the wisdom of crowds in terms of structuring a business deal or in resolving, actually resolving, a business issue. In fact, it’s more like the stupidity of crowds or the time suck of crowds.
For those instances in which you must meet, keep the attendance are limited as possible, have an agenda and stick to it, announce a firm start and stop time (the shorter the better) and, if you really want to be productive, meet standing up or walking around, not seated at a conference room table.
As the author G.K. Chesterton quipped, “I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.”
Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
Mark F. Weiss