back to article Send tortuous stand-up ‘nine-thirty’ meetings back to the dark ages

It begins with a murmur. Despite my best attempts to ignore it for as long as possible, the indistinct mumbling gradually becomes intelligible, forcing me to pay attention. “Is it now?” I glance at my watch surreptitiously as being seen to do so could make it difficult later to claim ignorance of the time. I shrink down, don …

  1. hplasm Silver badge
    Happy

    Those humans-

    You're in league with them, aren't you?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Those humans-

      Those humans-

      You're in league with them, aren't you?

      OK, that satisfies my daily need for awful puns nicely, thanks :).

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Those humans-

        Come on, we've got plenty more. You'll make us feel like you don't want us...

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Those humans-

          Come on, we've got plenty more. You'll make us feel like you don't want us...

          Actually, you're right. More! :)

        2. Michael Hoffmann
          Coat

          Re: Those humans-

          Don't you want me, baby? Don't you want me? Aaaaaah!

  2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    We do a status meeting every Monday. I usually spend more time on a Monday morning going through my emails trying to work out what I actually did before the weekend than I do in the actual meeting.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Sounds like typical Friday early afternoon, although in that case it's trying to concoct the random numbers to enter into my timesheet for the week and then make my weekly report vaguely match-up.

      Something to do between Dabbsie and beer o'clock, at least unless BOFH appears to distract me.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "at least unless BOFH appears to distract me."

        Funny you should say that. Where's part 2?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We do a status meeting every Monday. I usually spend more time on a Monday morning going through my emails trying to work out what I actually did before the weekend than I do in the actual meeting.

      That's the benefit of keeping your planning simple. We grabbed all of that data on Friday afternoon, which was a nice way to prep for beer o'clock, and on Monday we mapped all of that into what needed to be done that week. Granted, we had a small team which made that work (I've never really been a fan of large projects) but it kept us on track so well that upper management started to dig to see where we were hiding the delays :).

  3. WaveyDavey

    Someone stopped the clock, when we should have started early, if we miss the morning meeting, our lives may be in danger ...

    That's some serious pressure to attend a meeting, there.

    Takes me right back - I played Reproduction and Travelogue to death. And then to my shame, Dare, but I grew out if it. Still got a soft spot for Louise - I can never decide if Phil is flat or my ears are off.

    Damn, am I that old already ?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Dare is a great album of pop music. Accept it for what it is and you won't be disappointed.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        I can forgive Martin Rushent for "Dare" because of the wonderful pair of albums he produced for Pete Shelley at around the same time.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yup, as much as I love the strange futurism of the early League albums I still appreciate Dare as one of the finest pop albums ever made. And Phil has always sung slight flat, not enough to o be out but it actually makes for a more interesting listen as our brains find it more stimulating. Ian Astbury of the Cult is the same. Whereas auto tuned stuff is tiring to listen to as it's too precise.

  4. John Sager

    5.30 Friday is worse

    The project manager on a big project I was working on used to do that. OK I suppose if you retire to the pub after, but that was not my scene. Friday evening in the pub is for a nice wind-down with some friends after tea at home with the family, not a work colleagues piss-up.

    1. Dominion

      Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

      You mean you actually accepted those meeting invites? <shudder> They come from two types, young and eager, desperate to impress the managers that are optional invitees and won't attend anyway, and those that work from home, so a 5-30pm conference call isn't an inconvenience to them, and sod everyone else that is office based.

      1. John Sager

        Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

        You mean you actually accepted those meeting invites?

        They weren't optional, and in those days it was all face-to-face. I was just a peon team leader at the time. Thankfully that project just kinda wasted away & I moved onto some more interesting stuff with a better management ethos (stayed out of my hair!).

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

          "They weren't optional"

          I don't get that. I would ask to be shown where my contract or job description says I have to waste time in pointless meetings to please deluded managers. If I see no point to a meeting, then I simply don't go, and eventually people become used to it and accept it. What can they do? If they try and impose it then I'll be clear that I will happily go and do my work for one of the competitors.

          Meeting culture is out of control and needs to be called out. I even witnessed somebody arranging a meeting to discuss when to have meetings.

          Make a stand, refuses to go to pointless meetings and make the world a better place and your business less wasteful.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

            Make a stand, refuses to go to pointless meetings and make the world a better place and your business less wasteful.

            Ok Smith, you put a meeting into Office365 for that? Be sure to include IT governance boss, superboss and sideboss 1 and 2. Also the team leaders.

            Me? I'm busy with time tracking (pretty useless as "priorities" change nearly faster than the time tracking quantum)

    2. Natalie Gritpants

      Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

      Great for contractors though. I've usually done my hours by Friday 3pm so I would get to bill for an extra 3 hours of overtime. I would be splendid in that meeting and it would take hours.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

        "Great for contractors though"

        If you actually find somewhere to work that is more results oriented than attendance focused the following phrase works like a charm to get you out of any of these pseudo-bullshit bollock meetings..

        "And what billing code shall I book this time to?"

    3. PNGuinn
      Go

      Re: 5.30 Friday is worse

      One place I worked I was told of the Marketing droid who was in the habit of calling product meetings at 4.55. Which then went on ... and on ....

      Engineering decided some action was needed.

      When all were gathered for the next event and he was just about to start someone piped up to the effect "Oh dear - 5 o/c - sorry - I've got >insert fatuous excuse< tonight - got to dash. This was followed by a series of equally sincere but obviously made up excuses and serial exits.

      Said droid was left staring at an empty conference room. I gather he was somewhat unamused but he never tried to pull that gag again.

  5. AndrueC Silver badge
    Happy

    A few years ago one of our department managers used to do these (possibly before they became trendy). We used to refer to them as 'morning prayer' :)

    1. brotherelf

      Ah, a fellow fan of "Our Brave Boys", sadly never repeated anymore by Radio 4extra?

    2. Darren B 1

      Morning Prayers

      In a previous work place a few years ago we had Morning Prayers but also Evening Psalms.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Morning Prayers

        In a previous work place a few years ago we had Morning Prayers but also Evening Psalms.

        Indeed. At my last gig, one of the projects decided to have 9am mtgs and 5:30-6pm mtgs. Which is fine, if its a multi-region project where you need to crossover time-zones, but this wasn't. Someone seemed to presume we'd all be working into late evenings at a time when I'd decided to leave that company.

        My morning status updates got skipped after the first week, which roughly would have gone like this:

        Monday AM - Had a nice sh*t and went to the pub as it was Friday night.

        Tuesday AM - Went home, watched TV, had dinner & the wife, and went to bed.

        Wednesday AM - Went home. Mrs was out with the girls so I ordered pizza & prawn on the internet.

        Thursday AM - Home, dinner, wife, TV, bed.

        Friday AM - Beers with the guys, skanky hot dog, more beer, various table dancing establishments, strange looking kebab, and a dodgy cab home. Are done now, only the kebab had a lot of chilli sauce on it and it's now seeking a place of residence?

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Morning Prayers

        In a previous work place a few years ago we had Morning Prayers but also Evening Psalms.

        Same here although they were called Vespers. And when they started a project, the early meetings were "Come to Jesus" meetings. Yeah, we all will rot in hell.

        1. BongoJoe
          Mushroom

          Re: Morning Prayers

          We used to have them at 8.30 on Monday morning. And try getting in from Brighton to some bomb and bullet-ridden area South of the River in time for that.

          And in a good mood...

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Morning Prayers

          "...the early meetings were "Come to Jesus meetings""

          There's a meeting!

          There is? When...Oh Jesus!

  6. stungebag

    Friday afternoon

    I once worked for a manager who was misguided enough to hold the weekly progress meeting at 2.30 on a Friday. I think it was an attempt to get us back from the pub at a sensible hour. Unfortunately the route from pub to office passed Uxbridge Station. There was a Metropolitan Line train that always seemed to pull out of the station at 2.30 on the dot. With me sitting in the first car.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Friday afternoon

      2:30 on a Friday afternoon? my, that is early.

      How's about 4:30pm? A PHB wanted to make sure that we were all at our desks until 5:00 and the traffic jam outside meant that we couldn't get out of the car park until 6:30.

      We moved the meeting to a Pub outside the area affected by the traffic jam. Everyone went apart from the PHB who was folornly waiting for us until one of us sent him a text asking where he was....

      We had told him about the change of venue but he was so engrossed with his management reports he never read it.

      Said PHB moved on very shortly afterwards. Heard later that he'd tried the same at the new company.

      Sigh...

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    So when do we actually get time to work?

    First line support is done by everybody. The customer sends a query to an address which is actually a group which everyone is part of. This is also the internal project 'um, I've got a question' group, so it's difficult to just set a rule to file it into the trash. Mail notifications at the speed of one every two minutes.

    Office is open plan with very few rooms which are constantly booked, probably no meetings going on, just people in there trying to work. The rest either listen to everybody talking or put music on full blast.

    Daily meetings, the subject of this excellent article.

    Agile fucking DevOps bollocks which means the customer wants this hotfix, no he doesn't, back it out and commit it to the main branch instead, yes he does, revert the hotfix branch, in, out, in, out, shake it all about.

    Development and hotfixes done by the same people, so as soon as the customer wants to change the web console to nice shade of puce somebody's pulled off developing something complicated so that the important puce hotfix can investigated, written, tested, and stuck into subversion.

    But at least it's Agile and DevOps.

    And then I look at El Reg for five minutes and it's probably something about Agile and DevOps. There's no escape, it's a bloody conspiracy.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: So when do we actually get time to work?

      Surely if you were a proper agile programmer, you'd be able to climb/run fast enough to evade the progress meetings?

    2. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: So when do we actually get time to work?

      DevOps is a middle management conspiracy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So when do we actually get time to work?

      Proper agile dev use git ;)

      I think you need a 360 review on this, spend a few weeks evaluating git then do a phased migration, and be happy now after all that change your more productive, well maybe until the question why arn't we more productive says we need more process/tools change...

  8. Mr Dogshit
    Headmaster

    "giant aquarium"

    "giant terrarium" surely?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "giant aquarium"

      I've sat in plenty of meetings over the years that I wished had taken place in a giant aquarium, a couple of minutes of panic and discomfort and then blissful nothingness.

      It's a lot better than the several hours of torture I had to repeatedly endure instead.

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: "giant aquarium"

      @Mr. DS:

      "giant aquarium"

      "giant terrarium" surely?

      Depends on how much the PHB and or the juniors are sweating..........

      <ew. just. Ew.>

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "giant aquarium"

      The kind of meeting I hated most, is the one they fly you out there for.

      Everyone knows you're there and there's only that opportunity to collar you, you have nothing else to do and there's nowhere to hide!

      You don't have a desk to go to - and I did this in the era before smartphones, so couldn't even sneak off into a corner and pretend to email.

      Worse they feel the need to entertain you, so you get taken out to lunch by the same people you're meeting - and so the horror continues over lunch as well!

      So you tended to step out of your taxi from the airport around 9ish, get ten minutes of small talk and bad coffee - then 3 hours of meeting, followed by lunch (with a side order of more meeting), and then at 4 more hours of lovely afternoon meeting - followed by taxi back to airport.

      I'd have been grateful for a lack of chairs in those meetings, as it would have kept me awake. After the projector's been running for all that time, the meeting room starts to get toasty-warm, and your 3-4am start begins to catch up with you.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: "giant aquarium"

        "The kind of meeting I hated most, is the one they fly you out there for."

        I have developed a simple defense against this this form of time wasting: if you want me in to attend a meeting on the other side of the country you will fly me business class. Meeting is at 9:30? Fine, you can fly me in the afternoon before, stick me in a convenient hotel and organise some form of transport to have me there on time.

        Don't want to do those things? Then you don't need me in that meeting enough.

        It may make me sound like a cunt but better that is a small price to pay. An unexpected upside is you get treated with a strange level of respect by people who would treat you like dirt if you showed up in cab fresh off the redeye.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: "giant aquarium"

      "giant terrarium" surely?

      Depends. If you're meeting management, or marketing, it's called a serpentarium...

      For lizards in general (see HR), it's a herpetarium.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: "giant aquarium"

        well, you can get the feeling you are slowly drowning, so aquarium may be appropriate

    5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: "giant aquarium"

      Habitat.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You should have a meeting to discuss the number of meetings. I've suggested that one more than once in different workplaces.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Joke

      You should have a meeting to discuss the number of meetings.

      Obligatory Dilbert.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: You should have a meeting to discuss the number of meetings.

        I wondered this about project management software developers. They must have project management software to manage their project management software. And if GitHub doesn't wirk, do you report it on GitHub? Do Jira testers record issues about Jira in Jira?

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          > I wondered this about project management software developers. They must have project management software to manage their project management software.

          Well they certainly don't seem to use their own software...

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

            "> I wondered this about project management software developers. They must have project management software to manage their project management software.

            Well they certainly don't seem to use their own software..."

            Why, they all use MS Project, of course...

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Optional sign for the desk: "The meetings will continue until we figure out why we're not getting anything done."

    3. grumpyoldeyore
      FAIL

      a meeting to discuss the number of meetings

      They're call "Retrospectives" where you bring up the things that went badly (an ever growing list because none of the previous things are ever addressed) and things that went well (a perpetually empty list). You have them at the end of a sprint, which can be any length but the Agilists insist only two weeks works.

      Agile - doncha just lurve it....see icon.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: a meeting to discuss the number of meetings

        They're call "Retrospectives" where you bring up the things that went badly (an ever growing list because none of the previous things are ever addressed) and things that went well (a perpetually empty list).

        Like coming up with fancy names for the meetings change anything.

        If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck...

    4. TomPhan

      Yep, had those. Also meetings where the only purpose was to decide when or where the next meeting should be.

  10. Fraggle850

    Meetings

    http://blog.codinghorror.com/meetings-where-work-goes-to-die/

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Meetings

      OK, now I just have to print off that png and sneak it up on the wall of the meeting room!

  11. Chris Miller

    And another 30% of the time goes on filling in 8 different and incompatible time sheet systems, to no apparent purpose (billing the client 8 times, I suspect).

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Not to mention the time required for preparing the management-dictated obligatory PowerPoint presentation that no-one except them looks at and no-one at all understands or gives a toss about.

      Either trying to find enough to put in that's worth saying, for *those* projects trying to cram it all into the mandated "couple of slides" whilst have it actually make any kind of sense or just those who have to use company-standard templates which do their best (worst) to inflict all sorts of font/animation/colour monstrosities on the viewer and take 4x as long to weed out to make the thing viewable for more than a millisecond without inducing nausea.

  12. Franco Silver badge

    Meetings are (mostly) an unlamented fragment of my past now that I'm a contractor.

    Actual conversation with team leaders at a former job went something like this:-

    TL: You weren't at the town hall this morning.

    Me: I know

    TL: Attendance is mandatory

    Me: Not for me, I'm a contractor

    TL: You're still an employee, attendance is mandatory for all employees

    Me: I'm not an employee, I'm a contractor. My contract explicitly says I'm not an employee and any attempt by the company to treat me as one puts you in breach.

    TL storms off.

    A week later, original TL is seen whispering in ear of another TL and pointing in my general direction.

    TL2: You weren't at the town hall this morning....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE an unlamented fragment of my past

      As are pointless talks with HR, yearly appraisals, being pointlessly consulted on redundancies, and enduring horrible Xmas dinners with your boss.

      Missus and I normally have our 'company xmas do' in March in a nice hotel with the pleasure of a good bottle of wine and some top food, or in a holiday cottage by the beach with our kids.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

        A friend recently changed jobs and had to go through 5 interviews over a 4 week period. I didn't have the heart to tell him that my last interview was half an hour over the phone answering technical questions and I was at no point asked where I see myself in 5 years or why I was right for this job.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

          Ah, the where do you want to be in 5 years

          Since 2009, my answer has been 'ALIVE'

          Currenlty in remission after getting Leukaemia in 2009.

          The last employer I said that too didn't know what to ask next. Yes!

          1. dotdavid

            Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

            "where do you want to be in 5 years"

            On a beach sipping cocktails enjoying my lottery winnings, I think.

            Oh, sorry you wanted me to pretend to *want* to have to go to work? :-)

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

              "where do you want to be in 5 years"

              On a motorcycle, probably somewhere in Africa.

              Caused brain sprain with the interviewer.

        2. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

          didn't have the heart to tell him that my last interview was half an hour

          Half an hour? The shortest one was two questions, maybe a minute: "Can you start tomorrow, and are you always wearing those silly clothes?". Both were answered in the negative; because it was only the next Monday that I could start, and I don't wear interview clothes except at interviews, and only when pressed.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

            "I don't wear interview clothes except at interviews, and only when pressed."

            It's nice that you keep your interview clothes pressed. ;)

            I had one client who needed me to go on site at their client's head office & insisted that I wear a suit (there being a heatwave on at the time). You know something's wrong when you're confined in a distinctly un-pressed suit & tie in a meeting with the (client's) client's manager and he's in disreputable shorts, even more disreputable T-shirt and sandals.

      2. clatters

        Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

        With a £150 tax free donation from your limited company on such an annual event of course.

        Thanks limited company, Hic.

        1. Stuart Castle

          Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

          "With a £150 tax free donation from your limited company on such an annual event of course."

          Reminds me of a "meeting" I attended with the engineers installing our (then) new VMware infrastructure. In a local pub, on their expense accounts, getting absolutely plastered while doing the minimum amount of talking about virtualisation we could to justify the engineers staying there. Damn good night.

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      "TL: You weren't at the town hall this morning."

      Yes I was.

      No- I didn't see you there.

      I was- by the Civic Hall steps...

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: "TL: You weren't at the town hall this morning."

        Calling meetings "town halls" is utterly ridiculous I agree. Although El Reg could re-enact them using Playmobil....

        1. Down not across Silver badge

          Re: "TL: You weren't at the town hall this morning."

          Calling meetings "town halls" is utterly ridiculous I agree. Although El Reg could re-enact them using Playmobil....

          Ah. Townhalls. All-hands. All the things management sets up and insists on everyone attending, so they can bolster their own view how important they are.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "TL: You weren't at the town hall this morning."

            Townhalls

            More like "Walking-the-Planks"

            > "I have given you new objectives last Monday. Can you tell me what happened?"

            > "Nothing"

            > "There are FIVE work days between then and now ... are you telling me you did NOTHING on this high-priority project? This is utterly unacceptable. I have to show something this afternoon to the board."

            > "If you look at my planning, you will notice that there is only ONE work day between then and now. All the OTHER workdays are already taken with OTHER high-priority projects."

            > "???"

            > "...."

            > "Then what did you do during the remaining day?"

            > "That was when you came in for that 'quick' special project for the boss ...."

            etc. etc.

          2. Enigman

            Re: "TL: You weren't at the town hall this morning."

            Or the one where they have invited the customer to present and to make them think there are still a large number of people who haven't been offshored they bring in people who don't even work on the customer's account. Customer impressed with 200 people being in the room without being any the wiser of 100 or so who don't work on (and never did) their account.

            My manager ticked our names off a list as we entered and later asked me why I didn't attend - I was sitting right next to her because she'd made sure we were there early to be near the front...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Well played Sir!, have a drinkie

    4. PNGuinn
      Mushroom

      Meetings are (mostly) an unlamented fragment of my past now that I'm a contractor.

      I really hope Simon's reading this.

      That'd make a superb plot for a BOFH....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agenda, agenda

    Thankfully no longer employed at my place was a senior manager who insisted on having meetings with a fixed, repeating agenda - often going over the same points each week despite the specific agenda points covering work that would take weeks or even months to complete.

    Said manager also used to arrange meetings to *set the agenda* for subsequent meetings.

    Their name is still said quietly, just in case they ever return...

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Agenda, agenda

      "a senior manager who insisted on having meetings with a fixed, repeating agenda - often going over the same points each week despite the specific agenda points covering work that would take weeks or even months to complete."

      Sounds like he was using meetings to cover his CRS* disorder.

      *Can't Remember Shit

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trendy fads

    Five years ago I was on a project with a trendy project manager who decided that we should have a daily morning stand up meeting. We all got to the meeting room and everyone stood behind a chair at the big table .... except me. I immediately sat down. The project managed said "This is a standing meeting. We are supposed to stand up." To which I replied "Feel free to stand if you want." And he did, but everyone else sat down too.

    Best to nip these trendy fads in the bud. Lets add Agile and DevOps to the list.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Trendy fads

      Let's hope so. Indeed it looks like the business writers have discovered the problems of too much communication. So we can expect the next fad to be just round the corner.

      I do think there is a lot to be said for regular reporting within a project as a way of structuring things and encouraging the communication of problems. But the meeting is just one way of doing this.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Trendy fads

        What is the 21st equivalent of PETER DRUCKER and can we have a soundbite?

        (Haven't looked at the Economist since the early 21st when they had degenerated into just another outlet for war and money-printing apologetics. A weekly Soma dose...)

        I like the Wikipedia article on the late Peter:

        He is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. His writings have predicted many of the major developments of the late twentieth century, including privatization and decentralization; the rise of Japan to economic world power

        In reality, Japan is an economic basket case of terrifying proportions...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mondays work better..

    One of the most fun projects I've worked on started with sensibly doing a Monday morning meeting. Not only was that a gentler way of starting the week, it also focused on what needed to be done, rather than on what we had already done.

    The only problem was that we had a director who insisted on leading these meetings, and he was one of those beings that combined a charisma bypass with a total absence of knowledge which meant he was evidently ripe for promotion (this was a telco). The result was that that meeting usually took about 3 hours, 2 hours of which usually spent on explaining things like "TCP/IP", "Unix" and "change control" to him so we could actually exchange the information we needed.

    That "2 hours" above is not a random number: once I engineered Monday meetings for him with other, similarly affected "leadership" at the same time, instead of with us lowly people with actual skills, I typically got the team through all of it in under 1 hour, even if we had people who, post weekend, were drinking coffee from paper cups instead of crockery because it made less noise..

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Mondays work better..

      Dear god!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mondays work better..

        Yes?

        :)

    2. ShortLegs

      Re: Mondays work better..

      Um, Global Crossing, by any chance?

  16. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Inventive?

    Ah rambling status meetings, the best example of counter-productive time spent since the idea of "preventative maintenance" was thought up (including the twice-as-long actual maintenance that needs to be done to repair whatever got broken by trying to do the maintenance preventatively).

    It's still the age-old mantra around here - "do you want to have a meeting to talk about the status of the current issues, or shall we just spend the time in actually fixing them?".

    And of course any inclusion of a Powerpoint requirement to explain said current status triples the (in)effectiveness of the whole exercise (or the time wasted on it anyway).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inventive?

      In my experience, preventive maintenance only gets going once you have been prevented from doing it the first time. You never get that implemented otherwise, because the beancounters will claim you're just wasting money on unnecessary hardware replacements and block the order for parts.

      In my experience, it greatly helps when you aid their understanding of the issues that will eventually occur by "accidentally" rerouting the helpline to their call pool at that point, which -by sheer coincidence- also seems to route their own support calls back (if that doesn't help, percussive maintenance of beancounters also helps, but you'd have to rig the CCTV timing first).

      You can see I'm definitely at one with the Universe - I like Karma so much I tend to help it along :).

      BTW, anyone who tries to run a Powerpoint in a tech meeting instead of using a whiteboard or flipchart (dubbed flopchart when used by management) will discover just how thorough a determined tech team can sabotage equipment..

    2. FatGerman

      Re: Inventive?

      One of my proudest* achievements was the 30-minute presentation I did, to senior management at their request, on where we were inefficient in our processes. I had Powerpoint, and graphs, and pie charts and all the stuff the droids love. And using their own tools against them I was able to provide concrete evidence to support my final statement which was "In short, the reason I am inefficient is that management insist on measuring my efficiency".

      My career stalled shortly after that, but it was worth it.

      * proud in a work context, I'm more proud of anything I do outside of work including the dump I took this morning

  17. brotherelf
    Pint

    Toilet meeting?

    If 16% of people multitask their meetings that way, why not have them in the porcelain room anyway? The lower ranks need to stand, the upper ranks get seats, nobody wants to spend more time in there than absolutely neccessary.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Toilet meeting?

      Now let me dump this idea on you, and see if it floats...

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @I ain't Spartacus -- Re: Toilet meeting?

        Now let me dump this idea on you, and see if it floats...

        But the job's not done until the paperwork is turned in.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @I ain't Spartacus -- Toilet meeting?

          Complimentary lube flasks will be handed out at the beginning of the meeting.

  18. Nevermind

    Late...

    I once worked for a cockwomble who decided , as no-one really wanted to attend his meetings so they'd drag themselves kicking and screaming to them only after he went to the "meeting room", that from now on anyone late would be "fined" 20p per minute of lateness.

    Next meeting who's late by 10 minutes? Yep Sir Cockwomble himself who tried to breeze into the meeting....and then felled by yours truly saying loudly "Wait, that'll be two quid Colin". Oh I'd be six foot under for the stare I got....bloody marvellous!

  19. Velv Silver badge

    "We're going to keep having these meetings until we can determine exactly where the wasted time is being generated"

  20. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Professional managers

    There is a type of manager who believes that management is a profession in its own right.

    This means that; other managers of the same ilk promote them, that they have no ideas what it is that the staff ( in any line of real work) actually do, they have to use all sort of managerial tools, (And I know there's a pun peeping out there), to prove that they have a professional skill.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Professional managers

      Aren't these identifiable because they all have MBA's?

      More Bloody Arseholes more like.

    2. Fehu
      Devil

      Re: Professional managers

      Management is a profession in much the same way that Professional Bull Riding is a profession. You get on the bull's back and ride; if you stay on long enough, you win. Fall off and get trampled and you lose. And there's always lots of clowns running around trying to distract everyone from the fact that neither they nor the bull riders have a clue as to what they're doing.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Professional managers

      "There is a type of manager who believes that management is a profession in its own right."

      I think it is, or at least it's a skill. Unfortunately it's a skill that very few managers have. It's even more unfortunate that so many organisations have a career path that doesn't involve promoting people skilled in their original profession into management. It makes as much sense as, say, promoting a chemist to an accountant (or vice versa). That doesn't stop people doing it. The end result is that the work ends up being done by people who either haven't been doing it long enough to show themselves fit for "promotion" or have been doing it for some time and shown themselves unfit for "promotion" and managed by people who would be excellent at doing the work but are almost all unfit to manage.

      1. cd / && rm -rf *
        Devil

        Re: Professional managers

        Those that can, do. Those that can't, become managers.

      2. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        Re Promoting a chemist to an accountant

        Promoting a Chemist to an accountant - Could work if you encourage him to bring his chemicals with him.

        Promoting an accountant to a Chemist - as long as there are other chemists around I'm sure that would work out splendidly.

        What's not to like?

  21. Efros

    Meetings are made even more

    interminable by that one individual, or if you're unlucky more than one, who loves nothing more than to hear their own voice chuntering on and on in a slow monotone about their current mind numbingly uninteresting project. They are invariably the only questioner when the meeting is about to be wound up thus delaying our departure even further, hopefully there is a circle of hell reserved for these individuals.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Meetings are made even more

      Unfortunately you'd probably find they'd be the ones running it...

  22. Def Silver badge

    We have a daily stand up at 09:45. I tried to get it moved to a more reasonable time of day, but unfortunately our QA team in India has to join and they couldn't find a free meeting room later in the day. :( Total waste of time.

    My very first job at Bullfrog (the games company) back in the early 90s had the best concept for status meetings ever: Around 15:00 on a Friday afternoon everyone would get together and slowly walk around checking out people's monitors seeing what they'd been working on (which is actually quite fun and productive in a games company - it obviously wouldn't work if you're making office software), giving feedback, etc. while munching on cake, ice cream, and other assorted snacks while drinking beer. After an hour or so this "meeting" usually just devolved into the end of week / pre-weekend party.

    1. Thecowking

      If you're even tangentially responsible for Dungeon Keeper, may I worship you please your eminence?

      1. Def Silver badge

        DK was a few months into development when I (foolishly) left.

        I worked a little on the console versions of Populous II and Powermonger, did map design for the original versions of Syndicate, and programming on Theme Park.

        I'm still in touch with most of the people from there though, so I can forward your worship (is that a noun? - it is now) as and when I see them. ;)

        1. Thecowking

          Syndicate is good enough for me, oh worshipful one.

          *bows*

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Heh, Bullfrog... brings back memories of a different kind of "teamwork" involving machine guns - in "Syndicate"... good times.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Teamworking in Syndicate

        People hated playing multiplayer Syndicate with me. I would just leave jacked up agents with lasers hiding inside buildings. As soon as someone walked past outside, the door would open, my agent would see them, and immediately vaporise them before they had time to react. Happy days. :)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rather a stand up meeting than a Dutch sit down one

    I remember a lot of sit down meetings when I was working in The Netherlands that would make you eagerly look forward to your stand up meetings.

    Things always looked good at the beginning of the meetings with an almost empty agenda and everyone needing to get back to work asap in order to hit the next deadline. "Hope springs eternal" they say but somehow it would always take 45 minutes to get to the "Any Other Business" part of the meeting. Of course the AOB section in the agenda which was always blank at the start of the meeting would fill up with at least four substantial discussion points relating to the project just after the "Chair" of the meeting asked if there was "Any Other Business" to discuss.

    It was a good day if we got out of the meeting in an hour and a half later. This was mostly due to two main cultural characteristics of the organisations.

    1) the concept of the "Chair" of the meeting was not really known in the organisations I worked in.

    2) many of the organisations had been created by forcing companies with very different cultures together and/or had staff who had been working together for decades.

    This meant that

    a) no-one really accepted the "Chair" pointing that the discussion had gone way off topic and could we please return to the original discussion

    and b) there were a lot of people with old axes to grind who would take every new opportunity to continue the sometimes decades old disagreements. See point a)

    Stand up meetings? You were lucky! I used to dream of stand up meetings,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rather a stand up meeting than a Dutch sit down one

      I remember a lot of sit down meetings when I was working in The Netherlands that would make you eagerly look forward to your stand up meetings.

      Oh, there is worse: that, but at a bank. It was at that point I realised their permissive drug culture was more to preserve sanity...

  24. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Globalised standups

    You haven't truly suffered until you've been part of a "co-located" Scrum team. It's happened to me in several jobs. The worst was when the offshore team was in the Philippines, so the morning stand-up took place at 8 am. On other occasions I've participated in telephone stand-ups with people whose accents are so thick that you press the handset harder and harder to your ear in a futile attempt to understand, and spend the rest of the day with a sore ear.

  25. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Best manager I've had

    Weekly (usually thursday) round up most of the team working on critical projects at about 11:15 am, head out to a local restaurant, discuss issues with the in flight projects as a team over meal. Since it was business related we were not under pressure to be "back in the office at".....

    Damn shame she retired.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Best manager I've had

      A fondly remembered Belgian manager of mine used to do that. The restaurant in question was a lovely italian one, with the disconcerting name of l'Arsenic.

      The only problem was that although there was no pressure to be back quickly, my boss did have a tendency to order drinks while we looked at the menu, and then a bottle of wine between two with the food. And you had to stop him ordering more with coffee. I had a warm office, and didn't wish to sleep my afternoons away...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can see several things wrong here:

    a) No-one wants to be there. If there's no buy-in on Agile techniques from developers, they are always a waste of time.

    b) It's taking half an hour - standups really should be no more than 5 minutes, and involve no more than the people in a team (which should be 7-8 max)

    c) You characterize yourself as an individualist wizard who doesn't care what your colleagues are doing, which is big indicator that no-one is working or co-operating together or making sure they're not getting stuck doing something wrong.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      "...working or co-operating together..."

      Is that where one of us is in charge of putting in all the opening brackets and the other all the closing ones, or the one where I do the other guy's job too...?

  27. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Aquarium? Pah...

    Try doing the stand-up in the semiconductor industry - with a crowd of a couple of dozen or so in the usually fairly noisy, warm and dry-aired cleanroom, in full bunny-suit, face-mask and safety glasses with people droning on for an hour or more and only about 5 minutes actually related to your tools or section (if that).

    Almost makes the aquarium sound appealing.

  28. Potemkine Silver badge

    It could have been worse

    At least you weren't listening to that sh*tty disco music in those days... were you?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're doing it wrong...

    1) Too many people - a stand up should be 15 minutes max, that can only be achieved with a reasonably small team. If your team's too big for that, break down your project into smaller areas.

    2) Don't take "stand up" literally - for one thing it discriminates against the disabled, for another it defeats the object of working as a developer, which surely is to minimise one's physical activity to the greatest extent possible.

    3) Who needs to actually see other people? Do it on the phone, preferably from your bedroom, in your pants (if you feel like dressing up for the occasion). This gives much greater scope for multi-tasking.

    4) 9:30? Waaay too early. Leave it for at least another hour, who's awake at 9:30?

    Anonymous cos I'm at work and just about to phone in to my "stand up"

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: You're doing it wrong...

      >Don't take "stand up" literally - for one thing it discriminates against the disabled,

      *ding* *ding*

      (Not actully disabled according to the Government definition but the happy(!) possessor of psoriatic arthritis. Which means I *can* stand for 1/2 an hour but I'll really, really suffer for it later..)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You're doing it wrong...

        Leave it for at least another hour, who's awake at 9:30?

        Full ACK!

        In our place, manglement insists that we show up bodily at 09:00 at the latest. This means you have to get out of the house at 07:00. Unless you own a car-crushing M1A1 to get through the non-traffic of the 100'000-EUR-car-overmotorized-but-standing-still retards.

        I suppose the fantasy is that there will be imprompu, serendipitious collaboration holisitically emerging from the cauldron of unplanned face-to-face 360°-awareness of physical presence.

        Instead, various zombies are milling around the water fountain and perennially dirty coffee machine (because no-one can be arsed to clean it, natch) discussing their weekends, marriage plans and other life horrors ot the latest rumors of what's in the pipe above our heads or how to make sense of friday afternoon's latest "reprioritization". Till around 10:30.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're doing it wrong

    Our daily standup has 12 people and takes no more than three minutes, with no prep time required.

    Any follow-ups are supposed to be afterwards, with the specific people involved.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: You're doing it wrong

      This is done correctly. Everybody gets to dump 10 bytes and context should be clear to all attendants. Not the case? Management? Feck off!

  31. OwlsP

    I can see several things wrong here:

    a) No-one wants to be there. If there's no buy-in on Agile techniques from developers, they are always a waste of time.

    b) It's taking half an hour - standups really should be no more than 5 minutes, and involve no more than the people in a team (which should be 7-8 max)

    c) You characterize yourself as an individualist wizard who doesn't care what your colleagues are doing, which is big indicator that no-one is working or co-operating together or making sure they're not getting stuck doing something wrong.

  32. Spawn of Seaton

    I find that a daily catch-up is very useful but then as a Scrum Master I would say that wouldn't I?

    Where they work well is when

    1. The team decides at what time the meeting will happen, not me and not higher management

    2. Participants gets a maximum of 2 minutes in which to speak

    3. Only team members speak

    4. Participants address the gathering, not me and not higher management

    5. Discussion happens between relevant people after the meeting

    Where they absolutely don't work is when they are a status report to management - there are other and better avenues for this.

    My feeling is that some managers treat these gatherings more like a military muster parade - polishing their egos at the vision of all the troops they command.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "5. Discussion happens between relevant people after the meeting"

      IOW you don't need the actual meeting.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        IOW you don't need the actual meeting.

        No, because it's the equivalent of the Unix:

        sync

        sync

        and then you get on with your work.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, once a week for 2 hours and short ones in the morning on alternate days....

    "What have we all done?"

    "You mean what stunning achievements can we claim in the name of this this glorious Reich in at most, the last 48 hours?!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hitler_chairs_the_daily_standup_meeting.webm

      "My Führer ... Steiner could not finish the project before the deadline...."

      "THIS WAS AN ORDER! FINISHING THIS PROJECT BEFORE THE DEADLINE WAS AN ORDER!"

  34. TestNinja
    Pirate

    Remember

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Remember

      ITYM the *meetings* will continue until morale improves...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember

        *meatings*, then?

  35. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Happy

    The best meetings are

    always the ones where you can get an accomplice to add to the mayhem.

    Scene: Boring Thursday afternoon production meetings.... poor bugger on night shift (me has to get up early to go in) and day shift guy is as bored as myself

    Manager : Any other business ? (after 45 mins of whining about profits, costs, rejects, more costs etc etc)

    Me : Yeah, day shift are a bunch of dirty gits who never clean up

    Accomplice : well night shift could'nt clean a machine if their lives depended on it

    Cue 10 min stand up face to face yelling match, while the manager was speechless with shock, the production manger was laughing his head off, and the inspection manager was going "now now lads".

    Production meetings went to one a month after that and neither shift superviser was invited ... win win all round I'd say

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The best meetings are

      Brilliant! I've actually seen this technique!

  36. Stuart Castle

    Nice to know meetings don't change

    You should try meetings in academia. I regularly have meetings where the actual meeting is dealt with relatively quickly, but then the inevitable questions in the "Any other business" section take over 4 hours.

    A ex-colleague and I tried to introduce the Just a Minute rules to any future meetings (1 minute to discuss each topic with no repetition, deviation or hesitation) on the grounds it would make the meeting far more productive, but we were told "No"'

  37. TeeCee Gold badge
    Pint

    Then again......

    ......sometimes regular status meetings can be really great.

    One office I worked in had a critical shortage of meeting rooms. We noticed that the pub up the road had a nice little partitioned off "booth" section in one of the bars that was both just the right size to accommodate the senior project team members and handily adjacent to the bar, so project status meetings were scheduled for 15:00 on Thursday (i.e. deserted pub time) therein.

    We found that there tends to be way less confrontation and a lot more constructive dialogue when the meeting's held in a booth around a round table and each attendee has a pint in front of them.

    1. Stuart Castle

      Re: Then again......

      I remember one day our boss decided to have a meeting at a local pub. He was in a good mood, and bought everyone lunch. He had a couple of pints and jokingly announced to the whole pub that anyone not on his table (which was management) was fired. So, we sat in the pub for the whole afternoon and well into the evening until he begged us to come back to work.

  38. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Obligatory Dilbert

    http://dilbert.com/strip/1997-07-21

  39. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Meetings not held are the best meetings

    There is a cartoon to that effect, from the series "The Norm", featuring a Yoda-like business coach, but the search enginge of my choice let me down, so no link for you today.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At my last job, 50% or more in meetings

    Despite Clarizen's study, In Symantec with Manglers in California, Engineering in India you'd lose more than 50% of the day in Stand Ups, and other brain sucking, time wasting 404 meetings. The other 50% was spent trying to reposition schedule expectations after the answers from Engineering were always wrong. What is it with Engineering staff in India? Just man-up and tell us when things suck and the sprint is in trouble...!

    I so long to be back in Waterfall days. Far simpler. At least I'm free from Symantec now!

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sunrise meetings

    That's what the drones at my work call them.

    Shudder.

  42. Somone Unimportant

    Like the "Rockefeller Habits" crap

    We started on these "stand-up" meetings after someone at my place of employment read a book called "The Rockefeller Habits" or something like that.

    Seems that good old JD held meetings like this, so we would too.

    All the time the executives were glowing about how wonderful this all was, I was seething inside.

    Sure, JD may have been a good businessman, but he was also a ruthless tyrannical bastard (imho).

    And his business practices drew enough attention that Standard Oil was forcibly split-up by the US regulatory authorities.

    People take from history what they want to take, and miss the other stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Like the "Rockefeller Habits" crap

      A "Rockefeller Habit" sounds like a very expensive recreational drug and/or sexual practice dependence.

      And his business practices drew enough attention that Standard Oil was forcibly split-up by the US regulatory authorities.

      That doesn't make it necessarily a Good Thing. At all.

    2. Queasy Rider

      People take from history what they want

      And hence the veneration of so many historical figures, but most depressingly that of partisan political observers.

  43. jason 7

    I used to have to write a weekly status report...

    ...that I suspected my boss never looked at as he made at least another 15 folks write them also for Friday lunchtime submission. They took a couple of hours to do and lot used to get stressed over it.

    So I started sending the same on in each week with just the date changed. I did that for nearly a year until I finally left.

    Had he caught me out some time later, I would have just shrugged and said -

    "Okay you got me, but would you like me to go out there and tell all the others you don't look at their reports either?...No? Didn't think so!"

    As for meetings? I found if you fell asleep in a few, people didn't bother asking you along to them so you had more time to get proper work done. I could do the falling asleep with my eyes still open trick so all they saw were my my eyes rolled up to the whites. Use to freak people out more than annoy them. It's not what you do but how you do it.

  44. The Vociferous Time Waster
    Facepalm

    Lolz

    My current client has weekly huddles where they cascade down the latest news from the C and SD level meeting that precedes it. As it's the sort of organisation that likes to 'develop people'(tm) they often have middle managers doing the cascade instead of the SD whose turn it is. There is something really tragic about watching people who don't like public speaking do a recital of their notes of a meeting they were bullied into attending. So there is a shy middle manager, promoted beyond their competence, shaking like a shitting dog and trying to ensure they get the nuance of every sports metaphor used to describe the company's abysmal performance that week while their boss's boss looks off and mentally ticks them and their boss off of any future advancement.

  45. N2 Silver badge

    Meeting

    Ive arranged a meeting at 09.30 the pompous voice on the telephone declared...

    Fine, but you'll be on your own.

    Whys that then? - Cos I wont be there.

    You are over 2 hours drive from me, if you want to meet at 09.30 you're most welcome to come here, otherwise I can do 11.00.

    N

  46. Enigman

    9:30 stand-up now at 11:30

    Our stand-up meeting was at 9:30am but was moved to 11:30am to make it easier for our colleagues in India for giving their updates. Said updates are still "X is not on shift, no update. I will check after the meeting." or something made up about why Y wasn't done because they looked at the aged ticket report 5 minutes before the meeting. My favourite part of the meeting (besides it ending) is asking why they have used 3 different reasons for the same ticket being aged over the course of the previous 3 days.

    Still, it is better than my manager's Start of Week meeting - which has now slipped to Thursday lunchtime.

  47. Kepple

    Zero tolerance approach

    I worked for many years in an administrative role in the NHS. During this time I did not attend a single meeting. Furthermore nobody ever asked me why I had not attended. Maybe if I had gone to a few I would have been missed, but I set the precedent from the beginning.

    I realised early on that, if you were doing the job properly, there was more work than any one person could be expected to deal with during the course of a day. There was no point allowing yourself to be dragged away from it unless the matter was urgent. I also knew that anything of vital importance would be communicated in writing, by email.

    I once asked a colleague on another ward what was discussed at the meetings. She told me that they mostly consisted of gossiping, drinking coffee and complaining. I had no time for any of this. I maintain that my zero tolerance approach to meetings was the right one.

  48. flayman

    It comes from Scrum and they're only supposed to be a maximum of 15 minutes. Half an hour is much too long. Scrum only works when you do it right, not for its own sake.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come to Jesus.......

    A company i once worked for is head quartered in the US, a newly arrived and quite senior manager came to visit only days after his team had rushed out a new tool that basically crippled all of our infrastructure by shagging the CPU of every machine all at once as part of a vuln scan.

    Following this catastrafuck, he decided to arrange a "come to Jesus" meeting to discuss it......right then i knew I had to leave.

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