Your thoughts on meetings?

I’m not a fan of meetings, but they’re necessary. However, sometimes I wonder if we rely on them too much. Below is a challenging post from Seth Godin about meetings.

By the way, if you’re not a regular reader of Seth, do yourself a favor and subscribe to his blog here and now. I often refer to it as the devotional for marketers. Really, he offers practical, but challenging thoughts, on how we’ve fallen in the traps of doing “normal” things day-to-day.

Read it and consider answering this one question in the comments:

If you were responsible for every meeting, how would you change meetings at your company?

If you work directly with me, I’d love your thoughts in the comments section too (yes, publicly).

Firemen, donuts and meetings

When a building is burning down, fireman coordinate their actions, make decisions and save lives.

They do this without Aeron desk chairs or Dunkin Donuts. They do it without subcommittees, McKinsey studies or input from the boss in another city.

To quote Al Pittampalli, “why bother going to a meeting if you’re not prepared to change your mind?” To which I’d add, “Don’t bother having a meeting if you’re not there to change or make a decision right now.”

Somewhere along the way, meetings changed into events where we wait for someone to take responsibility (while everyone else dives for cover).

How would you do it differently if the building were burning down? Because it is.

via Seth’s Blog: Firemen, donuts and meetings.

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  • cara davis

    I feel like meetings should be reserved when teams need to collaborate quickly and efficiently. Otherwise information can be disseminated in other ways.

    • Kyle Chowning

      Or when decisions to move forward need to be addressed and decided?

  • @kylereed

    I remember reading that post and really being challenged by his way of almost conducting a quick meeting with his readers through the post and changing minds. 

    I thought about it some more after reading your post and was struck with how much I love meetings and yet hate them as well. I think the reason I love them is because it is time spent with people, chatting about things we are excited about (not always). But really it is just spending time with our team solely focused on one thing. You do not get that much any more. But in meetings you get everyones attention focused.

    I think where meetings tend to go wrong is communication. Not in the meeting, but after the meeting. Like seth said with firemen, they do not sit around and eat donuts, they have to communicate quickly and effectively. If one piece of info is left out someone could die. So at the core of their meeting is communication. I think we have lost that in a lot of our meetings today. Communication both inside the meeting and after the meeting have really struggled. 

    Just my 2 cents worth. 

    • Kyle Chowning

      So in a way, the firemen meet to discuss action. Once action has been defined, they use walkie talkies to communicate THROUGH the decided upon action. Where company meetings don’t track with this is that we meet to talk and discuss, even decide, but our communication outside of the meeting breaks down. 

      Maybe it’s not fair to compare our company meetings to firemen? I mean, after all, they are talking about extremis circumstances. What we work on, daily, is hardly extremis or perceived to be life threatening. It seems that if it was, then communication wouldn’t be a problem and meetings would be short because life is on the line. 

      So where does that leave us?

      • @kylereed

        agreed on the extreme and life threatening stuff.

        I still think the communication after meetings is huge. Especially if there are no action steps after leaving. There are meetings that I am not apart of but need to know the info that was discussed. That info never finds me because the breakdown of communication breaks down. 

        I really think the action plan/action steps are important and add the urgency that firefighters have. I think if we started (sorry I keep using I think a lot) working smarter inside of meetings it would cut a ton of time, stress, and bitterness towards situations out.