back to article Another day, another meeting, another £191bn down the pan

"Wow, that was quick!" Yeah, sorry about that. I don't like to waste time. I prefer to get my thrust in first and finish off straight away. "You're not joking! I barely noticed it happening, it was over so fast!" I readily admit I have a reputation as an early finisher. If I can, I'll try to get it over and done with before …

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  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Possibly you are under the inexplicable supposition that your attendance at a workplace meeting serves a useful purpose. Yet in practical terms, all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools by its participants for the duration."

    In the case of some participants having them down tools for the duration is a useful purpose.

    I always found that the meeting at the start of a project was the most useful one. It enables you to look round, identify the (maximum) two other people in the project with whom you'll get the actual work done, identify the several other people who'll be in the way and wonder who the rest are.

  2. Dr_N Silver badge

    The simple rule of corporate meetings...

    "Anyone is allowed to just get up and leave after the corporate-wide, one-hour meeting limit has elapsed."

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

      Am I allowed to sleep instead? Those projectors don't half make the room cosy, and what with the fact the curtains have been closed...

      I'll be in the corner over there. Nudge me if I start snoring...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

        "Nudge me if I start snoring..."

        That was the pint at lunchtime - or in more luxurious days the wine with the lunch buffet.

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

        @Not Spartacus

        Am I allowed to sleep instead?

        I had tried this many times during the monthly, dreadful "team meetings". For two years I'd been waiting for a complain about my regular snoozing activity. I had elaborated an eloquent answer about meeting efficiency, target audience, information relevancy. But no, nothing. Not one comment. Finally I gave up and started to draw and design houses. And soon left the company.

        1. 404 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

          @Evil Auditor

          Awwww! You had the perfect setup for 'I arrange, design, and sell shrubberies', but you blew it... I am disappointed... Another beer!

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

      Just don't bother showing up to those pointless meetings. If asked about it answer a pointed: "So what question did I need to anwer? I have some time now, let's get it sorted" If it's none, just tell them you'll be there next time. (and ofcourse you won't).

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

        So many people started doing that at our department meetings, that the guy who calls them (not the dept mgr, the mgr's designee, who has delusions of greatness) made them mandatory. On his own initiative (told you he had delusions).

        Once I found out that attendance wasn't officially mandatory, I went back to avoiding them. Sure, sometimes there's interesting content, but mostly, it's an hour spent listening to people tell you stuff you either already know, or have only a minor interest in.

    3. Mips

      Re: The simple rule of corporate meetings...

      I hate meetings to.

      But do you prefer the Stones or Stone Roses? I can't make my mind up. Perhaps we should have a meeting about that.

  3. Paul Herber

    BLAME

    The Bracknell Locality Association of Meetings Engineers is always looking for new members.

    Meetings, the practical alternative to work.

  4. richard?

    I think you should have taken Friday off and skipped straight to the weekend bit - seriously, yet another post on pointless meetings on an IT site?

    Really not one of your better efforts; maybe there's a decent story in hacks running out of ideas and regurgitating cliches?

    1. Andy E

      Perhaps we should have a meeting to discuss his performance?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Surely the Rolling Stones gag was worth the entry price alone?

      Particularly as the entry price was £0.00.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      You don't know how many people are reading this in a meeting, and agreeing with every single world.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        It's like Dilbert. When I were but a callow youth, someone introduced me to it and I found them only mildly amusing.

        Then I went to work for a US multi-national - and suddenly agreed that Dilbert was incredibly funny.

        His first job was working for (pre-CA) Computer Associates. Who definitely had Catbert as their HR director. Which is why he found it funny first.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Just yesterday - "Optimal meeting density"

          http://dilbert.com/strip/2018-03-01

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just yesterday - "Optimal meeting density"

            That's the thing about Dilbert - somehow he appears and it's relevant.

            Years ago I was pressed ganged into helping a salesman with a customer. I had explained to the customer that the usual chap had recently left and I was just filling in. Afterwards, the sales weasel said that I shouldn't have said that - blah blah.

            Anyway, next day, back of Computer Weekly was a Dilbert cartoon. Dilbert and sales weasel meeting a customer - and the customer was pleased, because engineers don't lie.....

        2. A. Coatsworth
          Unhappy

          @I ain't Spartacus

          Re: Dilbert

          Once upon a time, when I was young and wide-eyed, a local newspaper carried Dilbert along with the usual comic strips on Sundays. I thought it was the most stupid, unfunny strip I had ever read.

          Years later I started working for a multinational too, and found Dilbert again. My incontrollable laughter at the strips was actually a desperate cry for help, for I realized I must be dead inside to find it _that_ funny, but nobody understood it.

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: @I ain't Spartacus

            Back in the 80's - Today was running Dilbert, I "got it" at once, though the strips were more evenly split between home & work.

            I recall a Mr Angry from Purley writing in, querying if was he the only person who didn't get the jokes, a swathe of replies soon confirmed it was him.

        3. Franco Silver badge

          Dilbert is funny? I was under the impression, having worked in the Public Sector in Britain, that it was a documentary presented in strip form for legal reasons.

          Mordac the preventer was clearly inspired by the change manager at my last contract. I was assigned a job to write PowerShell scripts to bulk changes UPNs for users prior to an Office 365 migration, but didn't have the lists of users attached to the job in the service desk software. This was on a Monday, job had to be done by the Friday of that week as there were consultants coming in on the following Monday.

          I phoned and emailed the change manager explaining what I needed and the time sensitive nature, all he had to do was either email me the missing files or tell me where/who to get them from but instead my reply was an Outlook meeting request for an hour long meeting the following Wednesday.

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

        5. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Some of us find Dilbert isn't a comic (ha-ha type) but seems to be an instruction manual for management.

        6. Hero Protagonist

          I just can’t read Dilbert anymore since Scott Adams became a Trump booster. Uggh.

        7. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          WTF?

          Dilbert's a riot if you work for a large American company. When I worked for a certain California based manufacturer of networking gear, there were several occasions when I was sure Dilbert worked there.

          Then I discovered Scott Adams is an enthusiastic Trump fan.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            As soon as people get rich enough, they'll love who promise to slash their taxes. He's been burn by political correctness and 'affirmative discrimination', and like many others sides with whoever is against it, even if he's a dangerous selfish moron. Adams also likes to provoke, I guess. I no longer read anything from him but Dilbert. More often than not, you may not like the authors of works you like.

            Anyway, the next president might be Wally....

            1. John H Woods Silver badge

              Re: "you may not like the authors of works you like"

              Philip Larkin wrote some sublime poetry but was a bit of a dick IRL; Wagner wasn't that great either.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Then I discovered Scott Adams is an enthusiastic Trump fan.

            Adams came out as an asshat long before that - most memorably in his awkward and quickly-exposed sockpuppetting. He exhibits some of the worst attributes of his own characters.

            But that's often true of artists (and everyone else, of course). For some members of the audience that will spoil their enjoyment of the work; others manage to overlook it. Either response is justifiable.

          3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Adams isn't a fan of Trump, he's a fan of his methods. If you actually read his non-Dilbert posts this would be obvious.

        8. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          His first job was working for (pre-CA) Computer Associates

          I worked (for a while) at Motorola. Where the Dilbertian stereotypes were not only present, but mandatory to proceed up the management greasy pole.

          I left to become a contractor.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I do hope one day you find your happy place. I really enjoyed the article because I too have been to many many pointless meetings. I usually ask for a meeting about the number of meetings and that usually gets them cut back.

  5. Stumpy

    Reminds me of my days in EDS where we'd have to have a pre-meeting meeting meeting to discuss the agenda for the meeting to discuss the agenda for the meeting to figure out the agenda for some workshop or other....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] for the meeting to figure out the agenda for some workshop or other..."

      With the actual decisions being made while chatting in the queue for the vending machine.

  6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Terminator

    Flee for your lives!

    Did anyone notice that there is now a thing called:

    Meeting governance technology

    Turn to item 4 on the agenda. You have 20 seconds to comply!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Flee for your lives!

      Meeting governance technology is the the chairman* of the bored.

      * or woman.

    2. Jason 24

      Re: Meeting governance technology

      An old boss of mine thought a million dollar idea was a clock that counted up the minutes of a meeting and everyones salary and told you how much the meeting had cost.

      And would bang on about it for 10 minutes at the start of every meeting he arranged.

      Never progressed it, should have arranged a meeting I guess..

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: Meeting governance technology

        Should have made it happen, on your own time if necessary. Printing up 'official' bullshit bingo cards was a fun little exercise years and years ago... even had those big bingo markers ;)

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Flee for your lives!

      Meeting governance technology

      I don't know - some devices that fall under that description could be useful.

      One year the Modern Language Association introduced, at their annual conference (a very large affair), electronic timers that would tell panel presenters when their time was nearly up, and then cut them off when it ended. It was a godsend.

      And just imagine ED-209 tweaked to enforce Robert's Rules of Order - with a vengeance. "Please yield the floor. You have twenty seconds to comply."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once upon a time - you had a journey to and from the site where the meeting was to be held - which could eat up several hours. Then the starting time kept slipping - as the person who had called the meeting kept getting called away to attend to some other matters. Finally the meeting started - and dragged on and on.

    Then came the innovation of the ISDN video conferencing suite - with seating for a small number of participants. Bookable only in timed slots. The meeting started on time - and ended on time - with the discussions focussed on the questions to be answered.

    Much more productive. A long day's mostly wasted time reduced to at most 30 minutes.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Alert

      Yes. And you know what happened as a result? More meetings.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      as the person who had called the meeting kept getting called away to attend to some other matters

      It could be worse - we were once in the market for buying some new SAN gear, so we arranged some pre-sales meetings with our existing supplier. We'd just about got to the "putting pen to paper" stage and had a meeting booked with the guru of SAN.

      The trouble was, he was only present for about 5 minutes (of a two-hour meeting) because he kept ducking out to take phone calls.

      We ended up shredding that order and buying from a competitor.

  8. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Missing the point

    Meetings are never about the item(s) on the agenda.

    Meetings have just two purposes- One is to prove to higher-ups or other interested parties that a box has been ticked. The other is to share any blame. Note that when something should or does go well there is (at least in my experience) never a meeting to share the praise.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Missing the point

      Wrong! Meetings are also an excellent way to get a free lunch. If scheduled correctly. The really good ones even have doughnuts...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing the point

        "The really good ones even have doughnuts..."

        mmm... donuts

        mmm...pizza

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Missing the point

          Well there's the solution.

          All meetings should come with one free course per (what'll we say, an hour?) - (Hobbits can have a course every twenty minutes).

          Either the company will wise up and limit number of meetings or go into the red due to the catering expense or the more terminal meeting addicts will die due to obesity or have to spend more time in the gym and away from the meeting room.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point

        "The really good ones even have doughnuts."

        Not the really, really good ones. Once upon a time in more generous days my team occupied the area next to a meeting room which was extensively used for lunch-time meetings. We became connoisseurs of meeting menus. The high point was one provided with Cointreau crèmes brûlée which had gone untouched.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Missing the point

          Here in Grumpenland meeting were void of food, even sipping on a coke was not entirely OK. Visitor from the US were regularly surprised by this.

          Might have changed since I left industry, though.

          Got rid of meetings by being a bit an obnoxious bastard, like reminding people who enjoyed hearing themselves talking to keep it short. Funny how fast you get to zero invitations.

          1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

            Re: Missing the point

            I used to work for Logica, where even in the rural branch a lunchtime meeting had a standard allocation of half a bottle of wine per person. No idea how the London-based employees got through a day still awake.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Missing the point

              Interesting that. I used to work near a big Logica building. Several local hostelries seemed to rely on their custom.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the point

      They're also "stealth breaks"

  9. Fading Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Nobody meetings....

    Like the civil service. Pre-meeting meetings, post meeting meetings, meetings to rewrite the minutes for the meetings and more meetings just in case. Admittedly the best place for some people is to be in a meeting as the last thing you want is them trying to do some actual work, that way madness lies.

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