The other question that I got to ask at the extended management team meeting was ‘how much of a meetings culture do you think we have?’ There must be some irony there. The point was to see how people felt about meetings, were there too many, were they any good and that this would naturally follow on into the supplementary question of ‘how effective do you think we could be in moving away from a meetings culture?’
I guess the assumption is that we have too many and they are not effective.
Before I go into the responses I wanted to think about what a meeting is and are they bad in themselves or just badly used. That is two questions.
So what is a meeting? Is two people getting together a meeting, even if they don’t talk about work? Did getting the extended management team together to talk about this sort of stuff count as a meeting? How big does a get together have to be to be a meeting? We need to agree what we mean by a meeting before we can consider our cultural approach to them.
As for the second question, to me meetings are like emails in that they get blamed for a lot when in reality they are just a tool. Even a breadknife can be dangerous in the wrong hands. There is no such thing as a bad meeting, just a badly managed meeting.
What was the consensus about our meeting culture then?
Well, the most common response to the first question was a heavy sigh. We seem to have a very heavy meeting culture and this reflects our overall culture. Meetings are held because control can be exercised there, people can justify why they are doing things, they act as comfort blankets in giving the impression that stuff is happening, they are our default position, our custom and practice and of course there is FOMO – the fear of missing out.
We all agreed that meetings are useful when to the point, interesting and with the right people. There are more effective methods of communication but they allow for consistent messages to be made. Sometimes they are the quickest route to solving something mind you.
Once again the answer is in our hands. When can we all get together to discuss?