Death by meetings

Have you seen that old movie “Zulu” that has Michael Caine in it?  He’s one of the British soldiers defending a fort at Rorke’s Drift from a force of Zulu warriors that outnumber the British about 50 to 1.  No matter how many Zulus they shoot another wave comes right behind them.

I don’t want to over-dramatise my work situation but that’s how it feels when I look at my weekly schedule.  No matter how many meetings I get through, there’s another wave of them coming right after.  I’m among the first to refuse to go to pointless meetings which makes these ones even more daunting.  Because of the stage our project has reached, I NEED the information that comes out of these meetings so I have to go to them.

This phase won’t last forever but the second bit that freaks me out a little is that I can feel my brain collapsing under information overload.  The nature of my role as Business Analyst means I’m expected to lead a lot of the discussion around deploying a company-wide piece of software and formulate all the design requirements.  Not much pressure there. 

So if my posts sound even more incoherent than usual (or they get shorter) this is the reason.  It looks like I’m going to actually have to work for a living for a while.



Filed under Work

15 responses to “Death by meetings

  1. tom

    somewhere recently on slashdot (i think) was a story on how meetings make people less creative. they even had some scientific study data to back it up. my proudest achievement as a manager was a seven-year streak with zero staff meetings.

  2. You have my deepest sympathy, Mr. Angry. If your posts have to be brief for a while, don’t sweat it. We’ve got to put roofs over our heads and food on the table, don’t we?

  3. Well, as 37signals put it: Meetings are toxic. And indeed they are, even those that are not pointless.

    is that I can feel my brain collapsing under information overload

    The Greek National Weightligting team’s coach Christos Iakovou always yells “katse kato apo ti bara!” (sit under the barbell!). So:

    -Katse kato apo ti bara!

  4. “I don’t want to over-dramatise”.. but all these meetings I have to attend at work is just like facing an army of Zulu warriors outnumbering me 50 to 1.

    No, I think it’s a fair comparison, not overly dramatic at all 🙂

  5. tom: that is an awesome achievement.

    kyklops: sad but true. I’d love to give up my day job and do this full time but I don’t exactly have a lot in the way of assets to support me.

    adamo: great saying, I think I’ll put it on a t-shirt. So far as 37signals goes, I read svn pretty regularly and like a lot of what they say but they have an annoying habit of stating things that work in isolation in their very tiny environment are universal truths. Sometimes when a group of people need to share knowledge and work out some issues a meeting is the best way to do it.

    Michelle: thank you! I’m glad you appreciate the seriousness of my situation.

  6. I got a staff meeting today.

    Not looking forward to it, it’s just a waste of time in my opinion.

    In my previous career (I was in finance), we had meetings run for hours without any point. It was terrible, especially since the top boss couldn’t speak French. Everybody else spoke French, not a lot of them spoke English. So it was really painful.

  7. What’s worse than a pointless meeting? A pointless meeting in a language you can’t understand!

  8. And add a conference call to up any meeting’s suck factor.

  9. Ohhhhhhh goddam conference calls.

  10. I’ve always maintained that meetings should never take more than 30 minutes, unless the agenda is taking over the whole Asia.

  11. That sounds like an excellent plan. Taking over Asia I mean.

  12. gruntski

    You could always take my baseball bat to the meetings, lay it on the desk, and assume a “fuck with me and you die…” look.

    That should limit the shit you have to put up with.

  13. Sounds like an excellent strategy, mate.

  14. Favourite results picked out from a hundred other post-it notes in a Post Implementation Review:

    ….. too many meetings …. too many emails …. not enough communication….

    I’ve thought about this contradiction on and off in the intervening couple of years.

    I guess most of us let our signal go out wrapped up in too much noise because we respect our own time more than we respect anyone else’s and won’t take the time to sense-check and edit.


  15. Yeah, I agree the sign-to-noise ration in most workplaces is lousy.

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