Ah, meetings. I could rant all day about them. I sit in too many; they go on too long; little gets done. Time management and focus issues seem to be the two driving factors, often combined with a liberal dose of posturing. Consider this if you don’t believe me: the following passage was listed as a requirement in a bid specification for one of my projects.

2.b. Do not raise issues at Progress meetings that do not involve other participants at that meeting, and that could be handled more efficiently at the level of the Vendor’s coordination with its own subvendors and suppliers.

Translation: stay on topic (focus) and don’t waste anyone’s time (time management).

Holy smokes. Since when do we have to spell that out? Shouldn’t that be common sense? Although I was flabbergasted to find this as part of the spec, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, Oh please, oh please, can’t we apply this to all meetings, everywhere?

I’ve been thinking about this for days. It has stuck with me so hard that I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I dreamed about it last night. (Please, no inferences about my lack of social life!) I woke up thinking that perhaps I could make a new career for myself as a meeting facilitator. I could hire myself out to various organizations just to lead meetings. As an outsider with no personal involvement in the organization or the topic, I could impartially keep the meeting on point. I wouldn’t accept the job without an agenda and a list of goals or necessary decisions to result from the meeting.

Actually, if more meetings had those items up front–an agenda and goals–they might be a lot more productive on their own. They wouldn’t need me, but then again, I already have a job.

Anyone have a meeting nightmare you’d like to share?

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