Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Team Meetings---brought to you by Marvel

I'm in meetings every day. They're terrible, and I personally feel that no more than 20% of them actually have any benefit.
I don't understand the breed of people that enjoy meetings or think that there is much accomplished. In fact, I've suggested to a few of the meeting coordinators that we should switch to a bi-weekly or monthly meeting, but was met with a confused look of horror like I'd just committed treason.. How dare I??!!

I'm not what you call a "major contributor" in most meetings.
Meetings are supposed to be about "action items," and if you don't participate, you shouldn't attend. I've gotten to the point where I'll share my data so quickly and succinctly that you're likely to miss it if you aren't paying attention.
Is this truly bad? I know that the next 3 people after me will start a mini-convention discussing some small problem that has no consequence to the bottom line.

Truly Winded Idiot talker: It's come to my attention that when I pull fab reports, that the data must be pulled within 24 hours or it goes over to the backup server.
TWIT's buddy: So, who can we talk to, in order to have this changed?
TWIT: I don't know, but it takes at least 3 minutes to access the data on the backup server.
TWIT's minion: What if I have to pull 20 different lots...that would be an hour!!

Me: Just access the server once, and copy all 20 lots over at once.

TWIT: (interjecting) I'll contact Bill's boss to have this fixed.
TWIT: Does anyone else have anything else they want to say about this?

Me: (please...please...nobody speak)

TWIT's sidekick: Perhaps we should write a script that will automatically pull the data.
TWIT: Great idea. Are the files comma delimited?
(14 minutes later)
TWIT: Great...I think is a good start.

Me: I just downloaded 354 files since we started.
(Dirty looks all around)

I usually sit in the meetings and watch the characters around me....it's like a comic book.
Take these for example:

The Nodder:
You'll never miss this guy. His eyes are blood-shot, hair tousled, and is riding the pony for the entire meeting.
His head bounces up and down, or perhaps he'll try to rest it on his hand, only to pull a full-forehead table slap. This guy is begging for whiplash.

The Eater:
This is the Brad Pitt of the meeting-room. He's always eating something. One day it's a muffin, the next a bagel. I'm waiting for him to walk in with a double cheeseburger and start dipping fries in ketchup during a PowerPoint. I'd like to see him suppress his "burger burps" during the meeting.

The Blackberry slave:
NO!!---Don't do it. I know you just heard the tell-tale buzz of your blackberry, but you've bothered everyone else about 24 times in the last 10 minutes checking you e-mail. Oh...it buzzed 3 more time while I typed this? Did you have all your junk mail forwarded or something?? Only Tila Tequila gets this much mail.

Coffee guy:
I didn't even realized they sold coffee cups this large. It's like he grabbed the Super Big Gulp cup and filled it with Joe. He can't go a literal 30 seconds without taking a sip. Is the meeting at 4pm?? Who cares....gotta have it!!

The typer:
We all have laptops for our personal pc's which is quite handy in most meetings and work. Unfortunately this leads other "activities" during the meeting. I didn't realize that a human being could be so noisy while typing. It's like we're holding a meeting in a WW1 telegraph bunker.

Share or Die:
He's got something to say regardless of the situation. Does he have anything relevant for the subject? Probably not...perhaps he likes to hear himself talk. Perhaps he thinks others like to hear him talk. I'm certain the latter is not true.

This is where meetings start to get interesting and I tune in. This guy defines where the the rubber meets the road, and will publicly call out anyone who is under performing or late on deadlines. He is the main reason I go to meetings.

Whispering corner:
Yeah...I can hear you. I just heard you whisper about how bad you hated the movie "Hitman." Yeah---you whisper like my 3 year old...no concept of decibel level.

I suppose you're very smart, and I'm glad we are paying for your work Visa---but I can't understand a damn thing you're saying. It's like you're vomiting Asian alphabet soup. Did you just ask me if I'd like to ride your pony?

And then there are the eye-glazers. This is the silent majority group of which I am a member. We wait patiently for the meeting to end, trying to decide if we should fake a pee, or just resign ourselves to the fate ahead.
I gotta go...TWIT wants to show me his new ideas.


Roger Green said...

Likely, the issue isn't the NUMBER of meetings. It's the top-down structure of most meetings that give most participants no buy-in. It's power dynamics.

Meetings are neutral. It's meeting facilitators that often suck.

Don said...

I used to just frown a lot. That seemed to give the impression that I was "into" what was being said. All meetings were an extension of lunch time for me.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

somethings never change---I retired from the 40hr weekly grind back in '96'---and gotta tell ya, the discription of the group summarized in this post recalled faces around the meeting table I use to have to be at------and Your right Roger, a meeting is only as productive as it's group leader. Otherwise its the perverbial chinese cluster----well you all know what I mean.

Trey said...

I just left the Air Force after 10 years and let me tell you, once you reach the Non-Commissioned Officer level of enlisted its meeting and briefing out the a**.

Every single meeting is about Ideating. They never accomplish anything. I will NOT miss that part of the Air Force

Chat Blanc said...

yup, i think you nailed the types of meeting attenders. I like to play several different roles on a rotating schedule. It adds to my multiple personality mystique.

The Josh said...

Finally, somebody to share my sympathy. I sometimes enjoy meetings just to watch the people you have just named. Great post.

boisebyufans said...

I don't have much experience with business meetings, but I would definately be a nodder. I don't really listen, but I nod to make them feel important. In my opinion most meetings could take place via the e-mail. Hope all is well!

Da Old Man said...

Oh man, you hit the nail on the head. I used to be in Social Services, and we had constant meetings. Once we met for 2 hours to discuss the best method to get clients to the airport, because you know, retarded people making 12 bucks a week often have to deal with this.

The Acorn King said...

Those are the worst, we used to have meetings about when we should have meetings at my last job.

Chris Wood said...

Meetings are there to fuck your day up. I once impersonated a chicken in a staff meeting when I was a teacher. The reaction was a mixture of delight and outrage, depending on how seriously you take meetings & how much of a pompous asshole people were.

The Hypocritical One said...

Roger--You're correct, but meeting facilitator takes too long to write in a normal blog post.

Don--Frowning does generally indicate interest...although it could also be gas.

gary/trey--I'm still attempting to sleep with my eyes open..that would be an accomplishment.

Chat--Now that would make an interesting meeting.


boise--My entire life could take place via e-mail.

Old man---You said the R-word...

acorn--that is brilliant.

Chris--Now if you had imitated Job on "arrested development" imitating a chicken, you would have been golden.

Jeffrey Ellis said...

LOL, nice post. I hate meetings. I have developed the ability to pick the most strategic seat to sneak out of a meeting early without being spotted. It's like I can visualize the whole conference room as a mathematical 3D graph -- the low spots being hellishly situated in the crossfire between principal meeting participants, into which action items tend to flow, and the high spots being remote easily defended mountain retreats offering quick and unseen escape routes.

Anyway, that's how I think of it.

Alex L said...

One of my friends is a whisperer I had a class in university with him. We'd sit up the back and he'd just whisper non stop. Well his version of whispering, he still talk at the same volume he'd just make his voice go all husky, and then laugh in his regular voice. Whilst nudging me with his elbow for a response while the lecturer stared at him.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

We also had the 'IT Presence' in our meetings; the guy we 'asked to sit in' to hear what we needed our database to do. Then he'd talk about what he needed to do to make it happen and we didn't understand a damn thing he was saying. All we really needed to know was "Can you do this?" "Yes I can!" Not, well if the SQL blahety blahety unintelligible blark blark.... Can you do it? Yes? No? Great. Now shut up. Nobody's paying you double what we get to explain it to us.
(Jerry, wherever you are; the only reason I ever asked about your kids soccer games was so I could have a conversation with you that I understood!)

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