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A Logistical Nightmare

Mon, 11/24/2008 - 6:07am
David Mantey, Editor, Product Design & Development
David Mantey, Editor, PD&D

"In the professional world, there is such a thing as too much communication." -David Mantey

Luckily, I’ve moved on. I used to be at a company that scheduled meeting to set up meetings. That’s right; we’d plan a meeting in order to map out the meeting for the following week. At the following meetings, we talked about topics that required a “more in depth” conversation so instead of taking the time right then and there, we would spend the next 15 to 20 minutes perusing our schedules to set up the subsequent meetings. At the end of the week, I’d be sitting at my cubical frantically scrambling to meet a deadline and my boss would ask, “David, are we having problems.”

“Well,” I’d reply. “I just need more-.”

“I think we should talk about this after lunch,” he’d interrupt. “Let’s set up a meeting.”

As I said, I found my happy ending to that story, and I wasn’t sad to see it come to a close.
Meetings should be short, sweet and to the point. Nothing great has ever come from a meeting after the 30-minute mark. If they extend beyond this mark, the parties included were unprepared or simply looking for a way to chat-through that last hour before they leave for the weekend. Remember back in school, when the teacher would ask if there were any more questions? Five hands would shoot up immediately, because we all new that if we didn’t burn through the time, we’d have to start another topic/chapter/subject.

In the professional world, there is such a thing as too much communication. The work flow gets bogged down with information sharing and managerial oversight that you wind up losing an entire workday in combined work time. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to be on the same page as your fellow associates. How else would you be up to speed on the nuances that went down during the previous shift and plan to fix them accordingly?

Why plan fifteen minutes of overtime at the end and beginning of each shift to discuss such things? How hard is it to say “13 and 15 are down and we lost half a day on nine” in passing as you log off your computer and the next shift lead is hanging up his coat? Notes. White boards. Displays. Communicative tools have been improved exponentially to increase the speed at which communication occurs. Honestly, tell me how sitting in a board room discussing the workday is any different than sitting around a fire planning a hunting/gathering excursion with a stick and some sand.       

At my present company, most meetings are short and to the point. “We need this done. Can you get this done by Friday?”

“Yes.”

“Then get it done.” Meeting over (add three more lines of dialogue if the answer was ‘no’ or ‘maybe’).

You simply cannot waste time discussing a job; it’s counter-productive. Now, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I have to cut this short, I have to be in the conference room in three minutes.  

What's your take? Email david.mantey@advantagemedia.com

Click here to read IMPO editor Anna Wells' take on meetings

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