Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let's Meet

I have read articles and heard reasons why we should do away with holding meetings, that meetings are counter-productive and prevent us from actually accomplishing anything. I'm still not convinced.

I'm waiting for results of studies that examined "open space" work environments that operate in just one large room and see what they say. In theory I think it is a really neat idea, and can lead to more productive and psychologically healthier employees. This new idea of open space contradicts this new idea of doing away with meetings.

As for actual meetings, I think they serve some good purposes. Even if someone knows exactly what they're doing, and a meeting will do nothing for them in terms of contributing to their work, it is still good to make that face-to-face interaction with the other members of the team. With more and more moves to embracing technology and enabling people to work from home, it will become increasingly difficult to have a simple chat with someone in person. If you are someone who just doesn't like talking to people, that may be another issue.

Meetings help re-motivate the group to stay on track and collaborate on some different ideas. Perhaps there is something raised that another individual didn't consider. The biggest argument against holding meetings is that everyone knows what to do and meetings keep them from accomplishing the actual tasks. When you work at home you don't really know what other members of your team is up to (I like using the example of the email correspondence illustrated in The Social Network). If someone hasn't worked as much on a project as expected, a meeting is a good time to find out.

I do agree with the (Japanese?) saying "Fix the problem, not the blame", and meetings have the ability to do just that; collectively you can decide what needs to be done and who is the best person to do it, whether that means changing responsibilities.

What do you think, are we going to see the endangerement (did I just make up a word?) of traditional office work-related meetings?

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