I dislike (hate) meetings.
The only meetings I like are the meetings that result in critical decisions. These meetings usually steer the entire ship to an additional or another destination. Everybody needs to agree or else the ship is going to sink.
Problem is that the majority of meetings or not these critical meetings. From anecdotal evidence from others and myself, most meetings are to 'status update', 'discuss things', and to 'come up' with ideas.
You go to the meeting, if you are lucky you have an agenda, but most of them don't which makes it harder to achieve anything. Others and yourself give your thoughts about a certain topic, then all parties receive old and new information, think of a solution, have a vote, and if you are extremely lucky have a new task for each individual.
Here I laid out a few things:
- Give your thoughts about a certain topic
- receive old and new information
- Come up with a solution
- Have a vote
- Retrieve new tasks
Now comes the question:
Why the hell do we need meetings for the first three?
For the first one, I don't understand why you can't write a document and propose it to the other parties. I mean everybody uses Slack or something similar at least. Propose it there and get feedback there or even have voted with emojis. Also, we have an extremely terrible memory. The chances are you high misremember something. The written text however never lies.
So why do we need for everyone to gather at a specific time, listen to one or several proposals? Why can't it be written?
Well, here is the truth. The organizer and other parties/individuals can't write or read. It could be many reasons why. The organizer may write boring things that are too long, too tone-deaf, no diagrams, no designs, or just plain text. Or more often than not, the proposer is just an incompetent writer. Else why else would they organize the meeting? To feel the vibe of the group? What are we, hippies?
It could also be that the readers, can't read at all. Why? cause they interpret things the wrong way consistently. In this case, the writer could write amazing documents and are very clear. But somehow the supposed readers are not understanding it or read at all. How do companies think they solve this? By having meetings, clarify things there and tell them directly.
But hey where does the origin of the problem lie here? Well, the incompetence of objectively reading the proposal in the first place. If the proposer wrote a readable proposal, and a meeting is still needed, the reader is incompetent.
Then the part where solutions are thought off during the meeting. Wait... then what are proposals for? Exactly. The proposals or documents beforehand SHOULD be the solutions for the PROBLEM. Why create documents or meetings in the first place? To progress into solving a PROBLEM.
Okay, but Hoye, pEOPle ARe mOrE ENGageD In A mEetIngS. Well, then I got bad news for you. You hired the wrong people. I truly think the people that like meetings, are the organizers themselves, people that are incompetent in writing and reading, or people that are interested in their work.
You hear this phrase often:
'I love meetings, don't have to do anything but listen'.
Well, if you hired those people, they don't have a true commitment to their work. That part 'don't have to do anything' says enough.
There is also an argument that meetings make it more human. That's true. It's way more fun to hear it from the person itself, than reading it by yourself. Well, if team bonding is your goal, then why not spend those meetings doing that. Organize things to truly team-bond like together lunches, zoom talks/presentations, drinks on the house, gaming evening, or anything else that is more fun.
80% of the meetings can be written down in documents and proposals. If your company can't do that, it has an incompetent culture or incompetent people that can't read or write.
Yes, writing is hard. Reading is hard. But you know what is truly harder? Remembering all the things that were discussed during your last meeting.
Go ahead try it. Remember every single point that was discussed in your last meeting. Then run it by with all the other parties, and I'm 100% sure you missed something, or additional information is added.