26 May 2009

Wasting the day with meetings?

Better Business 2 Comments

You’ll have to excuse me now. I might upset your corporate thinking, but I think 50% …no more like 75% of meeting are a waste of our time.

And what’s my most important resource – it’s my time.

I have a good friend who says it this way ‘let’s not just keep having coffee’s – it’s all very nice to have coffees but can we DO something?’

Doing something is not as easy as having meetings. There will always be the opportunity to have another meeting but ACTION… mmmh that’s another thing. And it’s a funny thing if you start to look at this then you’ll see how little is done each week. Take a note of each time you meet with your colleagues. Did you actually get some actions? Then did you actually see them achieve anything by the next time you meet? I bet you that out will come so many reasons why nothing happened.

Very few of us ‘do’ stuff.

Without ‘doing it’ nothing is created. I can have loads of ideas, and dreams but they’re going to stay in my brain without some actions.

Why don’t we do things?

I suggest the number one reason is fear. Fear of what the ‘others’ will think is always strong. OK, well we don’t live on islands, we do affect others, so it’s good to play together well, but as we go from childhood to teens we get pounded with conformity. With reasoned thinking that does little for us except to give us more ways to not do anything because……

The second is that we don’t actually think very hard. Most of our lives are semi automatic. We answer the emails, we process the paperwork, and we watch the TV. We cushion ourselves from the discomfort of actually thinking about new stuff because thinking does make our brain hurt – its exercise.

How about choosing a new way to work, going by bike instead of car, going to a new place to eat, researching 5 new sandwiches to make, and trying out Twitter! – Simple stuff but each time we start to think again. What’s all this about? It’s about new stimuli that our brains love, and as a result new connections.

Many times I’ve seen an executive stuck on a problem or just feeling like they don’t know why they don’t know why! The answer is not going to happen by sitting there, its going to happen by taking some actions to exercise you, and random and new is good!

Thirdly I think its all about making the right space to create.

This is in two parts. Firstly by making the right space when we meet, to create. Helping people understand why we are here, what is about, how we are going to process and where we want to go. It’s also about new language. So let’s even start by readdressing the issues in new words. (Language empowers much of our thinking, getting a clear question and using a variety of ways to ask this question can rapidly bring new perspectives). Lost of great info on this like ‘6 hats by De Bono’ making fearless space to create.

Secondly it’s giving us permission to have ‘space’. So you will set aside 1 hour a day to do something new, to read a new book to look at new magazines, to try out that website, to have a shower (! A recent study says people are 33% more effective at work if they shower during the day – no very pc that is it?)

‘Doing’ is linked to our own motivation and excitement and so that’s our responsibility to find ways to become motivated.

In the next years it’s going to be all about innovation.

Doing smarter, faster and better thinking.

Its time to do something about this NOW so that we are ready for the action.



2 Responses to “Wasting the day with meetings?”

  1. Karl Rohde says:

    Finally, someone who actually shares my views on meetings!
    I have worked with about half a dozen start-ups over the years. The management have predominately been from corporate backgrounds.
    They all waste time in meetings. Actually, this corporate “attitude” gets worse in some areas. Things like time sheets.
    I recall one “ex-corporate” manager saying “well, at such and such a company we had to fill in three time sheets, so just do it” My held back response was “well that was money and time well spent, wasn’t it!”
    Action and momentum is the most important thing a start-up can have. Allow mistakes (within reason) and clear goal based guidance from the leadership. The natural processes and details will fall into place over time.

  2. Simon O'Shaughnessy says:

    Thanks Karl
    There is a phrase I use in coaching called ‘quick wins’
    Many times if you say ‘we have 15 mins now to get some quick wins for you in a couple of areas – what are they and what will you do?’
    We’ve got 15 mions to design them…
    With little thought people, if you’re got their attention, they come up with great ACTIONs that make the difference
    You wonder about making all meetings less than 30 mins?

Leave a Reply