Yesterday my 10 year-0ld daughter said, “Are you going in to work or for meetings?” I wanted to laugh, but she would not have understood. Whether she meant to or not, she hit it right on: Working and being in meetings are often not the same thing.
I posted this quote to Twitter and a discussion ensued. Luis Suarez (@elsua) mentioned that he will work on this after #LAWWE (living in a world without email). So we decided to call this next step #lwwm: “life without worthless meetings.”
Are meetings necessary? Absolutely, but there are different types of meetings.
The Formal Meeting – This is what we all expect when we think, “I have a meeting to go to.” It is planned (often on a reoccurring basis), on our calendar and (sometimes) has an agenda (so we actually know why we are attending). Sometimes we are fully engaged. Many times we are not. Sometimes we are there for only a portion what is being discussed and then we tune out. The Formal Meeting is also political – you have to be careful about what you say given the audience in the room.
The Meeting after the Meeting – This is often where the important stuff is talked about. Whereas the Formal Meeting is often emotionless, this is where we get the emotions and understand the drivers behind the meetings. This is where we hear what could not have been said during the meeting. This is the glue that makes the meeting make sense.
The Casual Meeting – The water cooler, the hallway conversation, the unexpected visit to the office. These are incredibly valuable. Why? They are very targeted and more open than a Formal Meeting. You might almost feel that you are talking to a friend (could it be!?!?!?). Again, more emotion is displayed here.
The Meeting to Talk About the Meeting Which Will Prepare for the Meeting with the CXO/Customer/Vendor – Self explanitory.
How do you know you are in a worthless meeting?
- You tune out.
- You think about other things you could be doing.
- You are checking your email.
- You are planning your vacation.
- You think, “That isn’t the real story. I’ll have to get together with them later to explain.”
Now that we can recognize that we have worthless meetings, the next step is to learn how to avoid them.