Meetings Equal Mediocrity

Meetings are temporary committees.

Nothing great gets done by committees.

Typically meetings are the exact opposite of actual work. They are a way of avoiding work, a way for egos to inflate, and a great way to waste time.

If you must have a meeting… and I mean if you really MUST… here are three tips to minimize the damage:

1. Keep it to 15 minutes or less. Use a timer! Be ruthless.

2. No speeches. Consider a 2-minute rule: no speaking for more than 2 minutes by any one person.

3. Stand up. No sitting. And no snacks, no drinks, and no handouts (if you can put it on a handout or in an email… why are you wasting my time with a meeting?).

This all applies to phone meetings too.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “Meetings Equal Mediocrity

  1. Amen! Peter F. Drucker saw the folly of meetings also. Odd how so few business people understand that most meetings are work avoidance. As for me, I agree with Peter Drucker and Ray Edwards.

  2. When I was a learning-products engineer/senior technical writer at a large computer company, for four years my responsibility was a system reference manual for a large operating system.

    The last edition I produced before the project was transferred to California contained 3000 pages in three volumes. My job was to keep it up to date, correct, and improved over the previous edition (adding useful examples and other usability enhancements.

    I did the job by myself, working no more than 30 hours per week with a few exceptions, and without breaking a sweat. I never missed a deadline.

    But after the transfer, I was replaced by ten full-time staffers, most of them paid as much or more than I because of the difference in cost of living.

    I attribute the entire mess to too many meetings and a project run by committee.

    A year ago, I created a set of seven manuals for special high-reliability power supplies for an early-warning radar installation in northern Europe. No committees. They needed the entire set written in less than a month.

    While the contract called for writing the manuals, I also typeset, produced, and delivered the finished product so they had to do nothing except for technical reviews. Their customer was very pleased with the result.

    It’s amazing what can happen when there are no committees involved.

    But there’s another problem: Committees thrive on compromise between opposing ideas.

    Compromise never leads to excellence.

    It always decays to politics.

    Clarke

  3. So your idea of life is that everybody should be working alone obeying orders given by somebody else also working alone but higher up in the hierarchy ? What if life was not so much about the result, but more about the process. What if life was about enjoying being with each other first and getting some work done second ? What if mediocrity is what comes out of people who hate people ?

    • Nope, that’s not my idea at all. And your presumption that I “hate people” is 100% wrong; I love people. Loving them is one reason why I think most meetings (in the context of what that word means in modern business) are a waste of everyone’s time.

      Let me be clear:

      1. I love people.
      2. I love clear communication between people.
      3. I think MOST meetings are anathema to #1 and #2.

  4. Good Ray, Meetings can be productive with a clear agenda of what were there to accomplish but for me I like your ideas because in my experience with one of my partners it becomes a stage for his i have all the answers so let me butt in to what ever anyone else has to say and take over always, to him it’s got to be that way for our good. Ha Ha

  5. With my travel schedule, I am on the road about 20 days per month (mostly in NY), and home about 10 days per month (just outside Sedona, AZ). My office manager Sherri and I have only one or two face-to-face meetings per month. They last from 3 to 5 hours. Everything else is handled via BRIEF emails and text messages. We have all of the company documents setup in Google Docs, including the ongoing “Meeting Agenda” and the Operations Manual. If something comes up between times that we are meeting, either one of us can access the Google Doc for the Meeting Agenda and put it on the list. When we meet, we “haul ass” and plow through the meeting agenda, documenting anything that needs to be done more than once in the Operations Manual – thereby creating a System (Michael Gerber) that Sherri can run with on her own. Sherri is awesome – highly efficient – it’s really great having a combination “Virtual-Live” assistant. We meet when necessary or when I’m available, and do everything else via phone and text.

    Sherri and I both despise meetings if they are not necessary. We would rather get the work done efficiently, and use time for our personal lives!