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Blog

The Meeting Disease

Max Zografos

Worst binge-eating I’ve done was during a regional review meeting in Europe. I devoured three ice-creams in one 45-minute session.

For the life of me I cannot articulate the benefits of meetings. They must be important, as this is where employees spend 90% of their time.

I must have Homer Simpson’s attention span, or suffer from ADD (a trendy ailment these days). The main thing is: I’m biased. In my twelve years at school I honed my sleep-with-eyes-open skills. I spent most waking hours in classrooms, so I can safely write six years off my life. In many ways, I'm scarred.

So, meetings suck the life out of me. I believe most of them are counter-productive. Here is why:

1. Compliance

Most employees do them because they’re expected to. It’s about busywork. Calendars need to be decorated with enough colorful blocks, to exhume the proper level of busyness. If you cannot do this yourself, hire a PA to do it for you. Bonus: this makes you look even busier.

2. Safety

Meetings are a way to diffuse and evade responsibility for decisions. Yeah, let's spend week after week “reviewing with stakeholders.” It is so much safer that taking swift decisions ourselves.

3. Lack of trust

How many times do we receive complaints out of the woodwork from that colleague lamenting about being left out of the loop? Prevalent corporate culture places no trust on any individual making the right decision on their own.

Meetings are where workers go, sit down, and watch the water-cooler gang dispense sentimental claptrap at each other for an hour. Why work, when you can meet colleagues and finesse them with the latest jargon you’ve picked up.

Alas, there is one guaranteed outcome from all this. A long meeting-minutes email, featuring enough action items to warrant even more follow-up meetings.

How many meetings did you go to today?