Sunday, July 11, 2010

Five Reasons to Kill 'The Meeting'

Perhaps one of the most popular blog topics in the working world is bagging on meetings. Perhaps some of them are even written on smart phones during meetings. No one is talking about the one-on-one with a boss or a colleague to work out an issue or smooth through wrinkles in an action plan, or the small group meeting with a visiting analyst or executive to compare strategies, we are talking about the all-hands, lets-go-round the room, here's-the-agenda meeting - The Meeting.
Engaging heavily online and collaborating great distances over the past two years, I have learned that it is possible to be highly productive without any of these sort of meetings at all. A workplace without them must be smoother. If they are meant to generate some sort of camaraderie, that surely could be accomplished better through informal staff gatherings and team-building exercises then in a room full of people where only one talks at once and there are all kinds of office politics simmering in the group.
I think that more work is done through online meeting spaces than in any kind of regular formal meeting. Here are some reasons why:
  • Asynchronous communication: If I ask a question or propose a solution, my colleagues have more time to consider an answer in an online forum, and it doesn't matter where they are when they answer;
  • Measured productivity: While being present at a meeting or being loud at a meeting may pass muster, it is easy to gauge meaningful contributions in an online forum;
  • Easier to schedule: No one has to set up their other work activities around The Meeting anymore;
  • The right people: Often the solutions are going to come from a tight-knit working group and there is little reason for a larger group to listen through their back-and-forth (some benefit to cross-pollination, but this also occurs online);
  • A productive record: Online forum communications create a clear track of what was said and who said it, and can easily be mashed up for other productive use.
What other benefits do you see or have you seen from doing away with The Meeting? What tools do you favor for online forums to replace The Meeting? What am I missing?

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