Why You Hate Meetings

I’ve written a lot about meetings, mostly because I just hate them. The vast majority are wasteful, unproductive, and distract employees from the actual task of getting things done. But no matter how much I (and plenty of others) write about the evils of meetings, organizations still have them. Now, I’ve finally discovered why:

In bureaucratic organizations, far too many employees think the process is the goal. They think their policies, meetings, and paperwork is their job – when these areas are only tools to get the job done.

So they schedule meetings on the mistaken premise that the meeting is the task in itself. In my mind, very few things could be more damaging to a company. As a result, full-time employees in big organizations schedule endless meetings, create books of policies, and talk about work, instead of actually doing work.

I’m calling for a boycott. Be tough. Be the obstinate person in your organization willing to stand up to the meeting bullies. Remind them that meetings usually hurt more than help. Remind them that policies may be important, but they’re not the reason your organization exists.

Stop talking and start doing.  Take it to the streets and don’t back down.

Let’s start a “no meetings revolution.”

Any other good anti-meeting ideas out there?

 

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 at 5:25 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • http://dawnnicolebaldwin.typepad.com/ Dawn Nicole Baldwin

    This is so true. In the absence of true decision making, people can be tempted to talk about what needs to be done & invite everyone and his grandmother to be part of the conversation. 

    This appearance of ‘busywork’ not only keeps the decision maker from making progress but takes everyone else off task & slows them down as well. 

    It’s good to seek counsel before making important decisions but every decision doesn’t require an audience or lengthy discussions. 

    Ensure the right people are at the table, have a clear agenda & move forward… 

    • http://philcooke.com Phil Cooke

      Great point Dawn.  Far too often, meetings never end because the leader refuses to make decisions.  Teams are great for brainstorming, strategy, and execution.  They’re terrible for making decisions.

  • http://twitter.com/Ben__Mitchell Ben Mitchell

    Yes I agree, the meetings must be the servant and not the master.

  • buzz

    Kevin Spacey’s character in Swimming With Sharks has some wonderful advice:  “Never attend a meeting that can start without you.”

    • http://philcooke.com Phil Cooke

      Great quote.  Thanks Buzz.

  • j a n

    I’m not sure meetings themselves are inherently bad, or if it’s just that so few people are good at leading/directing them. I always ask what 3 or fewer objectives are to be accomplished before meeting with anyone. It helps them focus what they’re really looking for.

    Or, meet standing around a tall café table. No one likes it but everyone stays focused. :-)

    • http://philcooke.com Phil Cooke

      LOVE standing meetings Jan..

  • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

    Don’t we have to have a meeting to discuss not having any meetings?

    Actually this is very timely because I’m in a class where we’re learning about processes that too many people mindlessly follow without understanding. As a result they simply do what they’ve always done without understanding that they could do it differently and achieve not only the same results but often better results.

  • Pingback: The Process | The Hole on the End of the Bible Belt

  • Jason

    Thought this cartoon and thought went well with your topic… couldn’t agree more.

    http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=028de8672d5f9a229f15e9edf&id=dd15a0ecf5&e=UNIQID

  • Joshua D. Ansley

    I have never been too a productive meeting. I don’t believe they exist. Luckily, companies still pay me by the hour to attend, sit, and contribute absolutely nothing.

  • Michael Williams

    I could have waxed poetically for an hour on the ridiculousness of
    meetings. However, I will sum it up with this simple thought. Like my
    old daddy used to say about excuses….meetings are like as$ #&#*$,
    everyone has one. One last thought, why is it that the slacker who
    excels in nothing, always finds a great idea in the all important
    meeting for everyone else to do? Office email is almost as bad.
    Remember the days when you would arrive at the office with one post-it
    note on your desk “call Bob”? Now we come in to 50 emails, 30 about
    meetings. Have a great week, oh, don’t forget your meetings.

  • Michael Williams

    I could have waxed poetically for an hour on the ridiculousness of
    meetings. However, I will sum it up with this simple thought. Like my
    old daddy used to say about excuses….meetings are like as$ #&#*$,
    everyone has one. One last thought, why is it that the slacker who
    excels in nothing, always finds a great idea in the all important
    meeting for everyone else to do? Office email is almost as bad.
    Remember the days when you would arrive at the office with one post-it
    note on your desk “call Bob”? Now we come in to 50 emails, 30 about
    meetings. Have a great week, oh,
    and don’t forget your meetings.