Solving Problems & Saving Time through Software and Crushing Entropy
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I have a hard time with meetings. It would not surprise me if most people have a problem with meetings. I have a “Broken Windows” theory about meetings. Once one person, or a few people, demonstrate that they do not value the meeting we are all in together; more people follow suit and stop valuing the meeting as well. (Note: I find the “Broken Windows” social theory about communities to be nonsense.)
Engineering teams have a unique problem regarding meetings. Engineers are makers, we are chefs, we like to create. This manifests in two ways; either they want to run the meeting their way, or they don’t value meetings because it is not creation. In each organization you have to find a way to have valuable meetings. The only thing worse than having bad meetings is not having any meetings — and all the repercussions and bad work that result.
In my opinion there are several ways to demonstrate that you value a meeting. These are not the only ways to demonstrate it, but these are my ways.
Bad meetings are like a cancer. Bad participants are like a cancer too. Eventually they ruin good meetings by poisoning people to stop valuing meetings. I have to try very hard in these situations to be productive, and it doesn’t always work.
You’ll notice I said nothing about laptops here. I think they are often a red-herring; a symptom not a cause. The cause is that people are not valuing meetings, so they’ll start fiddling on their laptop. By removing the laptop you haven’t solved the problem. They still don’t care about the meeting. Laptops are just a tool, sometimes you need one. I think you’ll notice that people who value meetings aren’t fiddling on their laptops.
Do you share these values about meetings? Do you have additional things you would add? Would you remove anything?