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 …

  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

      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

          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


    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"

          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

          @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

            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

          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

    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

      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

      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

        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

          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

    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.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Nobody meetings....

      "Like the civil service. ... meetings to rewrite the minutes for the meetings"

      No, as Sir Humphrey explained, the minutes are written up in advance.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Nobody meetings....

      When I worked in local government there was always somebody who would schedule meetings "in that gap in your schedule between 12 and 1".

  10. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Telephone sanitisers anonymous

    Anyone else read today's masterwork and have an overriding need to go watch/read/listen to Hitchhikers again? I'm sure there's some decedents from the B-ark crew around the table.

    Oh how we miss thee dear Douglas. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go clean my telephone...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

    I am reminded of the time we were rolling out a new corporate desktop to a whole load of new PCs, and some of the application deployment (via Novel Zenworks) was being tricky, mainly because there is a certain kind of software vendor that assumes you will actually want to physically click next 20 times on 200 PCs.

    Anyway... it was starting to get very close to deployment date and some of the packages were not finished. The Managers solution? 4 "Progress" meetings a day, designed to distract your train of thought and waste 2 hours a day...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

      I used to be deployed to sites with chronic problems. When I arrived the customer would often ask if they should raise the status to a "Red Alert" to get more company focus on it. I would explain that was the last thing they should do if they wanted the problem solved as quickly as I could.

      The company would assign a Problem Manager to go to site and have update meetings with the customer until the problem was resolved. So every couple of hours the technical support staff would have to down tools while they briefed the not very technical Problem Manager.

      On one memorable occasion we had been struggling like that all week. Unfortunately the local support staff were only available in prime shift. On Friday the Problem Manager and the customer management went home just after lunch. By 5:30pm we had cracked it.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

        Ah yes, the trusty old engineer* standard response to management -

        "Do you want to spend the time having a meeting about how to solve the problem, or should I just waste the time actually doing so?"

        If I had a dollar for every time I've had to say that to sales and management types, especially those who like to get involved with both success (and take the credit) and failure (to distribute the blame without a hint of taking any themselves), then I wouldn't have to avoid so many of the damn meetings in the first place...

        *engineer being of course the poor mug who actually has to keep the dreams and promised that came from a previous series of management meetings that they weren't invited to nor had any say in the outcome of.

        1. Disk0
          Thumb Up

          Re: "... meetings that they weren't invited to"

          And there it is: "meetings that they weren't invited to" are generally the meetings where the impossible gets promised tomorrow, any actual reality is overlooked for the sake of convenience, and technical, practical and funding issues are dealt with by handwaving and thereby delegating resonsibility for success to the lowest ranking staff.

          The only meeting any of us would ever need to be in, is the 3 second meeting in which we give the finger to pipedreams, and get a cash payout of all the money we saved by not scheduling meetings.

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

            Re: "... meetings that they weren't invited to"

            The key distinction being that the person making the promises (and attending the meeting) is rarely also the person who actually has to keep that promise and actually get things done...

      2. The Oncoming Scorn

        Re: "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

        A friend of mine on leaving college, got a job with Siemens in Swindon.

        On arriving at work one day, he blagged a spare seat on a trip to the Robrough site in Devon to troubleshoot an issue at that plant.

        On arrival the team went into the meeting room after having been shown the offending equipment first. He entered it a few minutes after everyone else (Loo visit following drive down).

        OK the issue is that the equipment is doing......

        Fixed it.


        Fixed it!


        Just ran a elastic band around this part of the assembly the manufacturers spring isn't up to the task & this is how we fix it every few months as the rubber band perishes.

        They left site soon after, I think he was in the dog house on the way back for "identifying" the issue so swiftly & partly because it was deemed a "wasted trip".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

          "[...] I think he was in the dog house on the way back for "identifying" the issue so swiftly [...]"

          As a green but skilled youngster the company sent me out to one of our subsidiaries in Africa for a couple of years to replace a previous posted guy. I started fixing all the "impossible" O/S problems in the same way as I had done in the UK - usually about half a day at most.

          This did not go down well with the local support staff. I made it look easy - and although paid considerably more than me - they couldn't do it.

          I later discovered that my equally skilled ex-pat predecessor had also fixed the problems in a similar time frame - then spent the rest of the week on the beach. He knew to make it look difficult.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

          @the oncoming scorn,

          The trick in those situations is not to immediately fix it but to cryptically point to some rumour that weaks springs have caused similar issues in equipment at other sites. Then spend some time pottering about "I don't know exactly what to do about it. Order new springs?" Then after the mandatory coffee break propose the rubber band trick. Just git'er done in this situation is a rookie mistake.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "all a meeting achieves is a mass downing of tools"

      The Managers solution? 4 "Progress" meetings a day, designed to distract your train of thought and waste 2 hours a day.

      At the first meeting ask (bulldoze your way into the talk if necessary) "Do you want me to stay in this meeting or do you want me to get the job done? Yes or no."

  12. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    Sports Direct had a point :-)

    ...when their CEO made a habit of lying down on the floor and going to sleep if he thought the meeting boring and/or useless :-)

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Sports Direct had a point :-)

      Was it Shell who removed all the chairs from their meeting rooms and got stand-up tables?

      Sure you make people attend a 4 hour meeting, but good luck getting them to stay all that time if they have to stand.

      I suggest a further wrinkle to this plan. Power the projector with a running machine. That way nobody will have the breath to speak for more than 15 minutes while boring you to death with slides.

  13. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    MAT* no. 1

    Meeting. My fetish. They turn me on, they arouse me sexually. Viciously. Just by the mere thought of "meeting" I can hardly contain myself. Which gets only worse in an actual meeting. Compusively I have to hump whatever comes my way: desk, chair, floor, PP handouts etc.

    Make sure the word spreads.

    *Meeting Avoidance Tactic

  14. wiggers

    The Dilbert Principle

    "Always postpone meetings with time-wasting morons."

    Best piece of advice I ever read!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Dilbert Principle

      Let me park this one here.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had a boss once that insisted we had a meeting whenever something went down or broke.

    No, not after it was fixed, but when it was down.

    Our answers where mostly "I don't know, I'll find out when I get back", or "yes, I was doing that as you called me in"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or you had to explain why their latest idea to solve it would not work.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Or you had to explain why their latest idea to solve it would not work."

        Oh yes. Had a PHB like that many years ago. Always presenting half-arsed idea as a fait accompli which we were expected to implement. To top it off, he was one of those who bought into the "there's no such thing as a problem, just opportunities" school of thought without actually understanding what it meant. As a technical oriented guy I took great delight in pointing out the flaws and the what ifs so we could be prepared for when (not if) things went pear shaped. In other words, people who do the work like to be prepared and have at least a plan B in place if not a C and a D rather than winging it and dealing, unprepared, with each "opportunity" as it arises.

  16. Patched Out

    I always arrive at a meeting 10 minutes late

    This is the typical time that the meeting actually starts after the meeting leader will have finally gotten the conference room computer booted and logged into, the video connection to the projector worked out, gotten through all the problems with the Webex connections to offsite participants, etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I always arrive at a meeting 10 minutes late

      "This is the typical time that the meeting actually starts after the meeting leader will have..."

      ...finally arrived for their meeting.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We actually have a meeting room called Camelot, it even has a round table

    1. Dr Scrum Master

      I was in an office this week with a meeting room called "Metropolis". I thought it was a reference to Fritz Lang. Then I saw that the other meeting room was called "Gotham"

  18. Seajay#

    Meetings seem like a waste of time until you have tried the alternative of explaining the exact same thing to 10 different people, half of whom will later deny all knowledge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People at meetings are reluctant to admit they have failed to understand something. One to one you have more chance of establishing that they have some grasp of the matter.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      No that's why you have email (or pre email, memos)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    17 Johns

    "Yes, I know there are 16 other people called 'John' on the project... and I'll be implementing unique naming conventions in the metadata."

    LOL'd at the irony of this. For us, it's Jeffs. I personally work with at least 7 Jeffs. Two even have the same last initial.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 17 Johns

      My impression is that the English postwar Baby Boomers had a lot of John's and Chris's - neither of which are particularly popular names at the moment.

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        Re: 17 Johns

        My impression is that the English postwar Baby Boomers had a lot of John's and Chris' s - neither of which are particularly popular names at the moment.

        Oh yes. If the class you were in at primary school didn't have at least 4 John's, David's and Susan's, you had probably wandered into a school in Scotland by mistake.

        1. Insert sadsack pun here

          Re: 17 Johns

          Scottish men of my age are all called David/Dave/Davie or Andrew/Andy, unless they're from north of Stirling, in which case they're called Hamish.

          1. Franco Silver badge

            Re: 17 Johns

            You missed out Stevie, Ally or Jamesie (as for some reason men called James around )Glasgow are more often called Jamesie than Jim, Jimmy or Jamie.

            Also North of Stirling they think everyone is called Ken, as in "I'm working with Davie, ye ken?"

            1. Daedalus Silver badge

              Re: 17 Johns

              And then there's that Scottish city where everybody seems to be called "Jimmy".

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: 17 Johns

              My mother's eldest brother was rather pleased she had chosen the name John for me. She had forgotten that her brother was christened as "John" - as he had been known all his life as "Jack".

              There was some surprise at a wedding when the groom known as John - was actually William Henry - and the bride had an almost unpronounceable first name so known always by her middle name.

              A young friend's partner chose the names for their son. As she is Polish it was a surprise that she chose "Christopher" - yes the English spelling. For his middle name he has his father's name - with the Polish spelling which the father keeps forgetting..

              1. lglethal Silver badge

                Re: 17 Johns

                In my college at uni we had 7 different Daves. It was all a bit confusing until we came up with appropriate nicknames - DC, little Dave, Davo, Racist Dave, etc. Unfortunately, I doubt that would work in the workplace.

                Thankfully as an Aussie, I can get away with just calling everyone "mate". Saves me having to learn anyone's name!

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: 17 Johns

              Also North of Stirling they think everyone is called Ken, as in "I'm working with Davie, ye ken?"

              I once had dealings with a guy who spoke like that in Berwick. Red headed, tartan tie, the full works. His PA later told me he was originally from Yorkshire but went to Edinburgh university as a young student and "turned all Scottish".

    2. LenG

      Re: 17 Johns

      Having retired, I honestly can't recall ever working with anyone called John. I did once share an office with 4xChris and 3xPauls which was bad enough until I went out for a drink after work with Chris and his brother Paul, and Paul and his brother Chris. Mind, I am notorious for forgetting names so having an almost 50% chance of guessing right was a benefit.

    3. PPK

      Re: 17 Johns

      ' "John," I began, causing 17 heads to pop up from behind massive CRT displays.'

      What about the Bob's?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: 17 Johns

        As soon as I saw the page open I knew it was "Hand Built By Roberts". I remember the original broadcast :-)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    annon... because you know who you are....

    the "Monkey pit" as the IT room was know back then, was situated right next to the main conference board room fish tank. (full height glass walls, and floor to ceiling outside glass overlooking the more expensive parts of london).

    someone had the thinly disguised idea that taking the wall down between the conference room area and opening up the tech area to show off to visitors and clients in passing would add "wow" factor.

    what it actually ment was we had to:-

    1. behave like responsible grown-ups

    2. stop smoking at our desks

    3. networks to find somewhere else to sleep off the Thursday lunchtime to Friday morning bender.. erm... drinkypoos on Friday daytime.

    we suffered this because it was very soon noticed, that we got a bead on what big brass meetings happened and when - because they were usually fully catered with platters of meat/cheese, sandwiches, muffins/pastries, pots of coffee/tea, cans of fizz. If it was a super big "do" there'd be a chef on site.

    To the point that we were scheduling our lunches and resultant food shops accordingly. Some people actively forgoing both breakfast and lunch on particular days in order to "have enough room" to hobbit the arriving free food fest.

    however one day, there was a particularly large and welcoming spread laid on. Some particularly massive meeting was being held. an hour went by... another hour... the smell of warm bread and olives only hinting at the copious bounty we could see through the glass.

    a few snappy comments started up, a few snide remarks. an "i'm hungry too!" whine. IT was quiet. but the quiet of a ravenous pack of wild dogs about to frenzy on each other. this was before the term "hangry" had been coined, but it was oh so relevant here.

    anyway, funnily enough, it soon became noted, that most of the IT team were familiar with and tended to frequent some of the more "entertaining" parts of town, and so brass would usually extend a corporate sponsored invite to the team, if visiting corporate dignitaries would need keeping amused of an evening.

    To the point that *any* new director or managing director was flown to London for a week on some lame excuse to "meet our European folks", as cover for night out with the tech team to see if they had "the right stuff" for the firm - or simply to report back some random legendary drinking war stories to the US for what really goes on in the UK after hours.

  21. TWB


    We used to get tea and biscuits at BBC meetings until one DG (who was alright in other ways) cancelled/banned them. Probably a good thing for my waistline.

    Later in my career with another organisation, repeating meetings used to get scheduled for things which people thought would go bad. Fortunately after the first or second, people would usually start not turning up and they would get 'forgotten' - I think staff at all levels felt the same.

  22. imanidiot Silver badge

    Excelent talk "Why work doesn't happen at work"

    I'm not normally a fan of TED talks, but this one hits the right points for me: Jason Fried | Why work doesn't happen at work

    He makes the point that there are 2 things that destroy productivity in the workplace. The M&Ms, Meetings and Managers. Because a meeting is a bunch of people sitting in a room not getting any work done, and a managers job is to keep people from doing their jobs so they can explain to him whether or not they are doing their jobs. He makes some other good points about workplace environmental conditions for effectively getting something done.

  23. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Usefulness of meeting is inversely proportional to the cubic number of participants

    And I don't tell that because I just attend a meeting with 20 other people *yawn*

  24. HumorousName

    Somebody benefits

    If it weren't for meetings I would be being paid much less money for a much more rewarding job.

    I gave up on self esteem and job fulfillment a long time ago

  25. Robert D Bank

    given up

    on almost any meeting involving colleagues from India because I can't understand at least 50% of what's said (or them understand me) because they speak to fast or too heavily accented, or they have a cold and sniff constantly, or they're in the street with feckin auto-ricksha horns beeping constantly or in an office with constant background noise. And if you ask a question you often have between several seconds and even minutes of silence, or nothing at all, especially if they have to own up to any mistake. For anything else it's just a faint 'yes' when you know they have no idea what they've said yes to. It feels like a large piece of life has been drained from your being.

    You can be certain beyond any doubt when you get a 'series' of meeting invites hit your mailbox from a project that spans several hours/days and no clear agenda that sanity will only be preserved by diligent use of the 'X'. If you get sucked into it you'll discover it's a giant fishing expedition to pick everyone with any knowledge's brain so they can try and repackage it as their own 'brilliance' without any reference to those supplying the knowledge. It always comes undone and they then call on the same poor bastards with the knowledge to fix the resultant cockup.

    There are some exceptions of course and I get on well with them, especially as they don't call meetings very often because they actually know what they're doing.

    I am absolutely aghast that anyone thinks that it is productive using offshore people that have not been properly vetted. But I guess those that decide never have to work with them.

    NOTE: I have reached this point after many, way too many, years of experience and it is making me ill. And most of the time I don't see it as my Indian colleagues fault, it is the moronic management that allow this to happen. They fail to see the nepotistic and fraudulent practices in recruitment in India, especially through 3rd parties. Those same moronic management also have a tendency to call a lot of meetings that they virtually have to press-gang people to attend.

  26. anothercynic Silver badge


    A man after my own heart!

  27. T-Bo

    In the run-up to Y2K, I was a consultant, converting/correcting clinical integration systems for that event. While working at a hospital system in Philadelphia with others like me from various vendors and consultancies, the Project Manager for the health system came round and requested that we all join her in a meeting room ASAP.

    We assembled there to find a number of circular tables with dozens of neat piles of documents arranged around them, a number of 3-hole punches, and a stack of empty binders in one corner. Her idea was that we would each grab a binder and walk round the tables assembling the notebooks (which were apparently Y2K project updates for senior management/board meetings), repeating until the stack of empty binders was exhausted.

    I gently reminded her in front of her boss that she was paying $400.00/hour to have me on-site ... I asked whether she felt those hours were more profitably spent building interfaces, or building notebooks for her meetings?

    Her boss immediately returned us all to our duties ... never did hear how the notebooks turned out.

  28. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Woo Woo

    I can't hear that in anything but ukuleles. :)

    (goes off to descend into H:\Music\UOGB\....)

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